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As global oil prices begin to rise again, the oil and gas sector is looking slightly optimistic as it starts to take an upturn from its prolonged slump since 2014.

Like other energy-rich Gulf States, Oman was hit hard by the slump in oil prices. This led them to join an agreement by oil producers to cut output in an attempt to shore up prices. As a result, UAE fuel prices hit $71 a barrel on January 25 for the first time since 2014 and credit is supported by OPEC-led supply curbs, a record-breaking run of declines in US crude inventories and a weaker US dollar. Demand will reach 111.1 million barrels per day by 2040, from 95.4 million barrels per day in 2016.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has projected for oil prices to continue rising towards $83 a barrel by the mid-2020s, reflecting a positive outlook for the sector in the long term.

To support this, the UAE has announced a continuation of production cuts for the month of March in line with an agreement made, aimed at balancing oil markets to support rising prices. Here are some of the upcoming trends in the sector that would kick start a promising growth in the long run.  


What are some of the trends to look out for?

Tech disruption

Dubai in particular, have been ramping up its Smart City plans to prepare for the Expo in 2020. As the nation strives to remain competitive globally, the oil and gas sector is no exception in opening up towards technology.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to have the biggest technological impact on the oil and gas industry over the coming years,” according to Omar Saleh, Microsoft's Oil and Gas Director for the Middle East and Africa in an interview with CNBC.

Firms like ExxonMobil, one of the largest oil and gas firms in the industry ranked first by Forbes' 2017 Global 2000 against the world’s biggest public companies, is currently spearheading AI exploration through a partnership with MIT to explore the oceans using AI software. With the biggest names in oil and gas investing within AI ventures, it’s clear that technology would likely have a major impact in the coming years.

Target Oilfield Services, a company based in Oman with digital services provided from the UK, is another exemplary firm that is using technology within its operations. It has been building a cloud based data repository for the Oman government, to manage its oil and gas data. This is in plans to get oil companies supplying data to take responsibility for quality control on the data they own. These data will be hosted on a cloud, enabling oil companies to load data independently. As such, it will allow companies to search for an access information via map interfaces. The system will be able to provide mapping data from any company, if it supports Web Map Services and Web Feature Services standard.


Spike in gas projects

Oman have been facing gas shortages for some years, threatening the viability of its Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports.

To curb this, the Giant Khazzan Gas Field project is set to bring a much-needed 10 billion cubic meters each year, equivalent to one-third of the country’s current production as reported by IEA. This project is vital to Oman as it would provide additional gas needed to power domestic electricity generation and energy-intensive industries that are part of plans to diversify this economy away from oil. Although the project is likely to boost export capacity, increasing domestic consumption over the longer term may limit its ability to become a significantly larger gas exporter than it is today.

In 2018, a boost in the hydrocarbon sector would drive a faster recovery as the Khazzan gas project expands production capacity. GDP growth is thus projected to rebound to 2.9% by 2019.


More hiring is expected, but what are the top skills that would surge in demand?

There would be more hiring within the sector as the market begins to embark on a positive spin. However, this hiring is also likely to skew towards data managers who can take on the roles of data scientists – developing skills needed for statistical analysis of data within the oil and gas sector. One essential skill that can differentiate data managers – the ability to communicate, explaining how data assets may be leveraged to drive well-informed business decisions whilst using a language the customer understands.

Data and digital technologies can transform the Upstream from being laggards to leaders within energy solutions. Robotics and AI would not replace jobs, much to the relief of many and would instead create new opportunities and new roles within the industry.

Oman’s leading oil and gas exhibition and conference, Oil & Gas West Asia (OGWA) 2018 will kick start on March 26 and will provide talent within the oil and gas industry an opportunity to exchange expertise and review latest technologies that would be integrated into the sector. It is also the biggest event for international oil and gas companies as well as oil and gas technology and service suppliers in Oman. Participants are able to discuss a range of issues related to this sector and would be sharing views on the developments and challenges they are facing since the recovery from falling oil prices.

If you would like to find out more about the skillsets needed to adapt quickly to the changing oil and gas market within UAE or how your organisation can be at the forefront with the right talent, do contact Hashim Kapadia at h.kapadia@progressivege.com or follow us on our LinkedIn page for other industry updates.