A privately owned Lebanese upstream oil and gas exploration and production company, CC Energy Development (CCED) is today a major player in the Omani hydrocarbon sector.
Having been unsuccessfully drilled by other companies for 40 years, in late 2007 CCED acquired blocks three and four in Oman – an area covering 29,000 square kilometers in the south eastern belt of the country – and unbelievably managed to successfully discover and produce oil there.
With its majority 50% stake in the joint venture (Tethys Oil and Mitsui hold the remaining shares), considering the various failed attempts of the firms that went before them, it was this amazing achievement that really catapulted CCED onto Oman’s oil and gas scene and drew attention to the company’s outstanding knack for innovation.
Since then, CCED’s growth has been truly meteoric, increasing production from 1700 barrels per day when the wells first came on stream in 2010, to becoming the fourth largest producer of hydrocarbon in Oman in less than three years.
Aside from considerably ramping up its production, CCED has also built 120km of pipeline to transport oil to the facilities of Petroleum Development Oman (the state-owned oil and gas corporation) besides setting up its own two permanent facilities.
“Today we're producing about 25,000 barrels a day,” says the CEO of CCED Mr. Shahrokh Etebar. “We're setting our goals to produce 30,000 BOPD by the end of this year. We have potential and aggressively follow it.”
In the first phase of its operations, CCED produced 3.2 million barrels of oil in total, while to date it has reached more than 15 million barrels so far.
“It is down to exploration and bringing those wells on stream extremely quickly, continues Mr. Etebar. “It takes us about a week once the exploration wells are completed to place them on the early production test.”
Indeed one of the main strengths of CCED is its ability to reduce the cycle time from exploration to production by parallel appraisal and development programs and utilization of the nearby infrastructure to bring the exploration wells on stream immediately after well completion.
Judging by how quickly and efficiently it operates, as well as its big production targets, CCED and its CEO are clearly ambitious. And through its association with the Consolidated Contractors Group of Companies (CCC) – a world-class engineering and contracting conglomerate specialized in the construction of upstream oil and gas processing facilities, refineries, and petrochemical plants – CCED is also evidently in good company. But what makes CCED unique?
“It is a combination of technology, having expertise, although we're very young and started small,” explains the CEO. “The people we have, have had long years with the 'majors' so we try to pass that experience on to our Omani staff. Of course, we have about 70% Omanization as well.”
Omanization – a policy enacted by the government of Oman in 1988 aimed at replacing expatriate workers with homegrown personnel – is now a priority strategy for CCED. But as well as providing more jobs for more Omanis, CCED also makes a major contribution to the Omani economy by trying to give back to the communities where it operates.
“We provide scholarships, courses, training, and we hire students right out of school, for example. Also we have local contractors that we try to assist and give them jobs within their capabilities…these are some of the programs in progress,” says Mr. Etebar.
Going forward, having made huge gains in its exploration and production activities in a relatively short span of time, it is the company’s ambition to constantly look to the future, considering ways to bring in innovation and inspiration.
“We’re still new in Oman, so we’re still working on the primary and secondary exploitation and exploration and finding and producing oil, but we´re not standing still,” says Mr. Etebar.
“We have a reservoir, we call it semi-unconventional, which requires potentially horizontal well drilling and hydraulic fracking. We also have some areas that contain bitumen, and they are at a depth of a thousand meters so they are very challenging but we have started looking at these for the future, maybe 10-20 years off; but we have to start studying them now and then at a later stage we can recover these reserves.”
With time, CCED will undoubtedly tap into the reserves utilizing the help and experience of the Consolidated Contractors Group of Companies to design, engineer, develop, and finance some of the more complex projects in the industry. The company is also keen to strike up domestic and international partnerships as it pursues its ambitious goals, especially from the United States who are the leaders in developing technology in the oil industry.
“Technologies like fracking are moving very fast in the US and they are ahead of everyone else, so (this year) we are going to try utilizing some of the expertise of the companies here in Oman and also from the United States. We want to get the latest technology and use it on our reservoir. Successful results of the pilot project will help to develop the reservoir, and a successful completion of this project could have quite an impact.”