BP has won official approval to develop a key shale gas project in Oman at a cost of $16 billion (11.6 billion euros), the British energy giant said on Monday.
The announcement comes amid a boom in gas extracted from shale rock that is lowering consumers’ costs.
The agreement will last for 30 years initially and involves a 15-year drilling programme.
“Today’s signing is an important step in the Sultanate of Oman’s plans to meet growing demand for energy over the coming decades and to contribute to economic development in Oman,” Oman’s Minister of Oil and Gas Mohammed Al Rumhy said in a joint statement.
BP chief executive Bob Dudley said the “major project (…) enables BP to bring to Oman the experience it has built up in tight gas production over many decades”.
In order to extract tight or shale gas, a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals is blasted deep underground to release hydrocarbons trapped between layers of rock.
Environmentalists argue that the process — known as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing technology — may contaminate ground water and even cause small earthquakes.