B&E | Oman’s Oil Minister Leads Industry-Academia Initiative to Build Co-operation on Research & Innovation
IndraStra Open Journal Systems
IndraStra Global

B&E | Oman’s Oil Minister Leads Industry-Academia Initiative to Build Co-operation on Research & Innovation

B&E | Oman’s Oil Minister Leads Industry-Academia Initiative to Build Co-operation on Research & Innovation

Muscat, Oman, June 5th, 2017  – Oman’s Ministry of Oil & Gas, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and The Research Council have ratified The 2017 Oman Energy Industry-Academia R&D Protocol in an effort to build a vibrant research ecosystem within the country that can deliver the solutions that the energy industry requires to sustain output through to 2040 and beyond. 

Over the last decade, Oman has demonstrated a commitment to innovative research which has successfully stemmed and reversed, a decline in domestic oil production. More of that pioneering spirit and partnership, combined with new technologies, will be needed going forward as the country prepares to tap more of its heavy and complex crude oil reservoirs, and hard to access gas reserves, to sustain and further advance production levels.

“Embedding academia into industry and vice-versa is a great idea -- when I was teaching at Sultan Qaboos University, the most useful part of my experience were the days that I spent in PDO as they taught me how to teach and learn the real-world application of petroleum engineering,” said H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Rumhy, Minister of Oil & Gas, Oman. “We need to find areas for collaboration, and we can start now by identifying professors throughout Academia who can spend time in the industry,” H.E. Al-Rumhy said at the signing of the Protocol in his office earlier today.

The R&D Protocol, which was harvested from a series of industry-academia workshops facilitated by Gulf Intelligence through 2015-16, calls upon companies and universities that ratify the agreement to adhere to a series of recommendations which are designed to develop a mission critical research ecosystem working on behalf of Oman’s energy industry. Much of the country’s oil reserves are classed as ‘heavy oil’ and require specialist technology to maximize production, such as enhanced oil recovery technologies.

Bridging the gap between Oman’s energy Industry and Academia to develop a vibrant research and development culture of collaboration could take three to five years to embed, according to almost two-thirds of the 150 stakeholders polled in a GIQ Survey conducted late last year. 

“The alignment between Oman’s Industry and Academia must be improved in order for Oman to deliver an enhanced R&D ecosystem that fosters efficient public-private partnerships,” said Raoul Restucci, Managing Director, PDO. “It is important to better integrate and lever Academia and to ensure a full and seamless understanding of the challenges industry  faces – in technology, innovation, and even legislative or economic hurdles– and work with private and public companies to find solutions.”

“For many years, PDO has embraced innovation and worked diligently with our partners and stakeholders to develop talented Omani students, professionals and businesses in areas of operational, technical and commercial delivery and value creation and this agreement will give this work added impetus.”

While Oman has been improving its R&D infrastructure, many observe that most new innovative technologies are still imported through international partnerships and not developed locally in the Sultanate. In order for this trend to change it is necessary to bolster the national capacity for R&D by developing and deepening collaboration between industry, academia, and government throughout Oman.

“Academia cannot do research for research sake; efforts have to be focused in order to deliver applied results that are useful to the profitability of Industry and to Oman as a whole,” said H.E. Dr. Hilal Al Hinai, Secretary General of The Research Council. “Leveraging the considerable opportunity in Oman is a journey that must be equally shared by Industry and Academia. The success of these partnerships is integral to Oman’s economic health, as oil and gas production accounted for the vast majority of government revenues in 2015,” H.E. said after signing the Protocol document with Mr. Restucci.

The R&D Protocol will be implemented through a digital platform where industry, academia, and government can connect around research and innovation activities, based on an Uber-like virtual marketplace model.  The platform will be managed by the Institute of Advanced Technology Integration (IATI) formed by The Research Council and PDO.

The platform will provide numerous resources for both industry and academia such as access to a researchers’ directory, which will contain searchable profiles of researchers and institutions in Oman. It will also provide access to a ‘staff mobility’ scheme that facilitates secondment from academia to industry and vice versa, and access to an application process to utilize industrial facilities for the purpose of research and innovation.