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Mon 7 Dec 2015 09:03 PM

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Oman Oil plans to invest $4bn to boost output despite low prices

State-owned energy firm says it has ambitions internationally to acquire companies, enter joint ventures

Oman Oil plans to invest $4bn to boost output despite low prices

Oman Oil's exploration and production division plans to invest up to $4 billion over the next five years to boost output despite low oil prices, the state-owned company's chief operating officer said on Monday.

"For us, low oil prices are an opportunity. We have ambitions internationally to acquire companies and enter joint ventures," COO Suleiman al-Zakwani told reporters at a petroleum technology conference in Doha.

Oman Oil Company Exploration & Production (OOCEP), which runs onshore blocks, as well as the Khazzan gas plant in a joint venture with BP, has increased oil output despite a global supply glut that has hit oil prices and revenues.

"We are very active in trying to grow the portfolio, there are a lot of companies out there under stress and looking for someone to bail them out," Zakwani said.

"We plan to spend between $2-4 billion," he said, adding that OOCEP was looking at opportunities in the Middle East, south Asia and mainland Europe, and would be raising its own funds for expansion from the first quarter of next year.

Zakwani did not give a precise time frame for the investment drive but said it was part of an effort to reach production of 200,000 barrels a day in 2020.

He said OOCEP's gas production in 2015 would fall short of a target of 70 million cubic feet per day but the company had not slowed down any of its major projects, at least one of which was running at a loss.

OOCEP's projected oil production for next year was 30,000 to 50,000 barrels a day, he said.

Separate to spending on acquisitions, Zakwani said the company planned to cut capital expenditure in 2016 by 10 percent and operating expenses by 20 percent, against a backdrop of lower crude prices.

Oman is on track for a deficit this year of more than 15 percent of gross domestic product and lacks the large fiscal reserves of its wealthy neighbours.

Zakwani also criticised the decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) last week not to lower oil production.

"We've been hurt as a country. We're losing a lot of money. We don't see any reason for the way OPEC is managing this," he said. "Trying to maintain a market share while all the rest of the world are really suffering, it makes no sense."

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