Omani Oil and Gas Minister Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Rumhy's recent visit to Iran proved that the Persian Gulf state is resolved to boost gas cooperation with the Islamic Republic.
Hamad Al Rumhy was part of a delegation led by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said to Tehran, and signed during the visit a series of agreement with his Iranian counterpart Bijan Namdar Zanganeh for the acceleration of the execution of previous letters of intent signed between the two countries for gas cooperation.
Oman, a non-OPEC oil producer, needs Iran’s gas to feed its liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants.
Mr Al Rumhy granted an exclusive interview with Iran Petroleum, a monthly published by the Oil Ministry’s public relations department. Here is a full text of the interview conducted in English:
Q: you were part of a delegation led by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said to Tehran. About what were the main objectives of your visit?
A: Iran and Oman have an excellent relationship; their leaderships are very close; the political understanding has been excellent all these years; there are historic links between the two countries. And I think there is now an appetite to translate all these to economic cooperation. This was one the objectives. That’s why I’m personally here to see how this can play a role in more economic relations between the Islamic republic and Oman.
Q: Was any special agreement signed in the oil and gas sectors during your visit?
A: Yes. We have a number of issues in the past about putting up a pipeline. Both countries are still very keen to see that project [be implemented]. So the agreement that we signed yesterday (August 26) was to go back to those ideas and to see how we can develop them into real projects.
Q: Do you have any plan to visit Iran in the near future for further talks?
A: Inshallah (God willing). We will come for the November meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum’s (GECF) ministerial meeting and during that meeting we have an opportunity for discussion as well.
Q: Oman is a member of GECF. How do you think this forum can affect international energy markets?
A: Gas is extremely important and the importance of gas is increasing every day. And I think this organization can positively help to make the contribution of gas more effective. There are a number of issues; some of them are very important. The organization is looking at how they can reach more countries to use gas, in some form or another. To help the poor countries that are struggling with power [shortage]. [I mean] power distribution in the world. There are still more than two billion people in the world without electricity every night. So these are the sort of things that the organization can be very positive. I know this is not easy but this is the kind of discussion that is going on behind this organization.
Q: So GECF is not expected to follow the OPEC style?
A: No. it’s not going to be the OPEC of gas because the gas market is a hundred and eighty degrees different to oil market: Transportation is complicated; the form of gas is also different and the qualities are also different. And it has never meant to be the OPEC of gas anyway since its inception.
Q: What are your expectations of the fifteenth meeting of this forum, scheduled to be held in November in Tehran?
A: I don’t know what the agenda is so it’s hard for me to prejudge at this stage. Personally I like to see the countries discussing cooperation. There are a lot of challenges in gas markets nowadays. The variation of prices from the United States to Japan is so wide. I think these are the real issues. If discussed, they would be very helpful to member states.