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Exports of Oman crude in June outpaces production on surge in China demand

Oman exported more crude oil in June than it produced after trading giant ChinaOil picked up an unprecedented 49 cargoes during the Platts Dubai Market on Close assessment process in April. China, which has been the biggest buyer of Oman crude in recent years, accounted for 90% of the country’s overall crude exports in June, up more than 12% from May, according to data released by Oman’s oil and gas ministry over the weekend. Oman exported 912,015 b/d of crude oil in June — up 11.28% from May — even as its production was only 888,636 b/d, according to government data. In addition to exports, it also supplied 134,366 b/d of crude to domestic refineries, up from 92,534 b/d in May. While China’s share of Oman crude reached a record high, it wasn’t immediately clear where the additional export barrels came from. Traders said the extra crude could be […]

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Oman to Build Giant Solar Plant to Extract Oil

A rendering of a solar-thermal facility in the desert. For years, the unforgiving desert of Oman has required special tools to extract some of the planet’s heaviest crude. The Persian Gulf sultanate’s repertoire now includes a technology not generally associated with oil pumping: solar power. One of the world’s largest solar plants will be constructed to coax Oman’s heavy oil out of the ground, according to Oman and its partners, Royal Dutch Shell RDS.A -0.29 % PLC and French energy company Total SA TOT 0.59 % . Called Miraah, which means “mirror” in Arabic, the 1,021 megawatt solar-thermal facility is slated to be completed in 2017 and located at the Amal West oil field in South Oman. The solar plant will be built by Petroleum Development Oman, a joint venture between the Omani government, Shell and Total, and GlassPoint Solar, a Fremont, Calif.-based solar manufacturer. The construction of a […]

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Oasis at Risk: Oman’s Ancient Water Channels Are Drying Up

Since pre-Islamic times, Oman’s water systems known as aflaj have brought water from the mountains and made the desert bloom. But now, unregulated pumping of groundwater is depleting aquifers and causing the long-reliable channels to run dry. It was 47 degrees Celsius. Make that 117 degrees Fahrenheit. In mid-May, the desert of northern Oman may have been the hottest place on the planet. But in the shade of the oasis, the temperature was dramatically cooler. Ali Al Muharbi, in his white robes and beard, beamed as he showed me around the date palms. All were irrigated by water gurgling down a channel dug many centuries ago to tap underground water in the nearby Hajar mountains. In Oman, a country on the shores of the Arabian Sea, these magical waters conjured from the most arid land imaginable are called “unfailing springs.” Image by Fred Pearce: Ali Al Muharbi (right) says […]

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Age of Plenty Seen Over for Gulf Arabs as Oil Tumbles

The boom that adorned Gulf Arab monarchies with glittering towers, swelled their sovereign funds and kept unrest largely at bay may be over after oil prices dropped by almost 50 percent in the last six months. The sheikhdoms have used the oil wealth to remake their region. Landmarks include man-made islands on reclaimed land, as well as financial centers, airports and ports that turned the Arabian desert into a banking and travel hub. The money was also deployed to ward off social unrest that spread through the Middle East during the Arab Spring. “The region has had 10 years of abundance,” said Simon Williams , HSBC Holdings Plc’s chief economist for central and eastern Europe , the Middle East and North Africa. “But that decade of plenty is done. The drop in oil prices will hurt performance in the near term, even if the Gulf’s buffers are powerful enough […]

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Oman’s $3 Billion Railroad Plan to Blunt Iran Oil Risk: Freight

Oman , which faces Iran across the Strait of Hormuz , said it’s poised to start raising cash for a $3 billion rail line offering an alternative route for oil and freight shipments that funnel through the 21 mile-wide channel. The nation of 3.3 million people, located on the southern side of the strait, is considering issuing bonds by the end of 2014 to kick-start funding for the track across some of the Arabian peninsula’s harshest terrain, Abdulrahman Al Hatmi, a director at Oman National Railway Co., said in an interview. Iranian threats to close the Hormuz waterway have been a recurrent theme in Western relations with the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution. While tensions have begun to ease after an interim deal aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program , Al Hatmi said the “very expensive” rail line is more than justified by the new trade opportunities bypassing […]

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