Muscat: Global energy giant Occidental Petroleum Corporation is not planning to divest its assets in Oman and other two Gulf countries, said the company’s president and chief operating officer.
The US-based oil and gas firm never planned to exit Oman, Abu Dhabi and Qatar – three GCC countries whether the company has operations.
“There were some discussions in the media about selling our working interests in these countries. We don’t want to do that either because these countries provide us cash flows,” Occidental president and chief operating officer Vicki Hollub, told Times of Oman in an exclusive interview. “These are important part of our business and part of our future (plan). We want to continue our operations in these areas.”
The US company, according to media reports, has a substantial portfolio of hydrocarbon assets in the Sultanate, which include Mukhaizna oil block. Occidental, which has been operating in Oman for more than three decades, is the single largest independent oil producer.
The Occidental chief said that almost two-and-a-half years ago her company’s chief executive officer started an initiative to look at all of its activities across the globe to give priority for refocusing on core business activity. “In the Middle East, our core areas are Oman, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.”
“(However) we are exiting or attempting to exit from Iraq, Libya and Yemen. We have gone through a process established with the government for an exit process in Iraq, which is in process now. In Yemen, some contracts are expiring. And we expect to be able to exit by the end of the year from Yemen. And in Libya, we have ceased our capital investments. Now we are maintaining operations as we go through a process of establishing an exit strategy for Libya,” elaborated Hollub, who was on a short visit to Oman.
Hollub also said that her company, in coordination with its partner Oman Oil Company and the Ministry of Oil and Gas, is working on ways to do things more efficiently and differently to bring down costs at a time oil prices have touched a 12-year low. “In Oman, we have a variety of potential projects to do. We will be continuing our activity levels one sort or another,” she explained.
Hollub said that the company has already invested over the years for drilling wells and creating other facilities. “Over the past few years, we have installed bulk of the facilities. So, a lot of our facility construction is behind us.”
“So, currently in Mukhaizna and northern Oman, our cash cost for operation is such that we can continue to produce with (the current) low oil prices,” added Hollub.
Asked whether the company plans to retrench workers in Oman due to sluggish oil prices, she said; “At this point, we do not expect a significant impact on our employees. In the United States, we have re-deployed engineers and scientists to the fields in place of contractors’ (employees), which give them a broader experience and improve activities because of the fact that these employees are more committed to add value for the company.” Occidental also introduced early retirement plan for their employees in the United States.
“Our people resources are important to us. So, over the course of time, what we are doing is developing our employees, enabling them to do a variety of jobs.”
As many as 84 per cent of the company’s workforce in the Sultanate are Omanis, while more than 70 per cent if its management team is constituted by locals.