US firm Occidental (Oxy) signed an exploration and production sharing agreement with Oman’s oil ministry this week to explore and develop Block 72 in the country’s central region. Oxy announced the acquisition last year (MEES, 9 November 2018), but the terms of the $59mn commitment have now been finalized. Carved out of PDO’s massive Block 6, the asset was awarded as a result of bilateral talks rather than one of the recent bid rounds. It abuts the Oxy-operated 120,000 b/d Mukhaizna heavy oil field where the US firm holds a 45% stake.

Oxy is already shooting seismic and plans to have usable data by 2Q 2020, after which it will embark on a drilling campaign. The signing is but another move as Oxy rapidly acquires Omani acreage: it was also recently awarded two other blocks - 51 and 65 - as part of Oman’s 2017 licensing round taking its total Omani assets to eight. Oman will prove a vital element of Oxy’s portfolio as it relaunches its Middle East push (MEES, 15 February). (CONTINUED - 168 WORDS)