Abraj Energy Services, a subsidiary of the wholly government-owned Oman Oil Company Exploration and Production (OOCEP), plans to add four new drilling rigs to its already formidable fleet this year, a move that will further cement its standing as the Sultanate's largest drilling services provider. A well-established player in Oman's oilfield sector, Abraj exemplifies what a wholly government-owned and operated entity can accomplish in this rapidly evolving and highly competitive industry dominated by international heavyweights, say experts.
With around 2,000 employees -- nearly 85 per cent of them Omani nationals -- this midstream energy services specialist is poised for strong growth fuelled not only its own strategy to be a well-diversified services provider, but also the ambitions of its parent company, OOCEP, the Sultanate's newest gas producer with a sizable portfolio of domestic and overseas hydrocarbon assets.
According to industry observers, Abraj's growing reputation and market presence assumes significance especially in light of recent revelations by top government officials about a partial divestment by Oman Oil Company (OOC), the state-owned strategic energy investment vehicle, in some of its subsidiaries.
Recent reports have identified OOC subsidiaries Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries (Orpic) and Abraj Energy Services as potential candidates for disinvestment via an Initial Public Offering (IPO).
Nasser bin Khamis al Jashmi, Ministry of Finance Under-Secretary, was recently quoted by a leading international oil and gas journal as saying thus: "The Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries (Orpic) has already announced to the media that it is preparing for partial privatization. We expect around 15-20 per cent of the company's shares to be off-loaded. Oman Oil Company subsidiaries such as Abraj Energy Services are also studying the possibility of denationalization through an initial public offering."
In recent years, Abraj has been ramping up its infrastructural wherewithal in line with its expanding order book. By the end of this year, the company will boast a fleet of 20 modern drilling rigs, underscoring a strongly upbeat outlook that contrasts sharply with the somewhat gloomy economic milieu created by the ongoing the slump in international oil price.
Side by side with this expansion, Abraj has also been rolling out new oilfield services. Long focused on drilling, well services and well engineering, the company added cementing Services to its list of capabilities last year.
Earlier, in 2013, Abraj added fraccing to its menu of services when it deployed state of the art fracturing equipment in supporting the development of the tight gas potential of OOCEP's Block 61 Abu Butabul field. Through the addition of coiled tubing and west testing services, Abraj began offering an end-to-end fraccing solution that earned it the distinction of becoming the first nationally owned oilfield services company in the MENA region to provide Integrated Frac Services (IFS).
As for its strategy for 2015, the company plans to grow its cementing and fraccing business with the aim of carving for itself a "sizable market share" in high pressure pumping in Oman," added OOCEP in a recently released review of Abraj's operational performance during 2014.