By Arab News
By Faisal Faeq*
A Saudi-Omani oil pipeline to the Arabian Sea would not only be a milestone for both countries, but it would also contribute positively to the global economy and regional energy security.
The economic benefits would include savings for oil tankers, in terms of both journey time and the cost of freight and insurance, and the creation of a new Arabian Gulf sour crude benchmark for the loading barrels headed to Asia.
An oil pipeline from Saudi Arabia to the Arabian Sea via Oman would also reduce the region’s dependence on the Strait of Hormuz, which is currently the main artery for the majority of oil and gas exports from the Arabian Gulf.
Such a project would require billions of dollars to fund, but the cost will be justified by the strategic and economic benefits. As for the pipeline capacity, the East-West pipeline could be expanded to transport 7 million barrels per day and the the Saudi-Omani pipeline to the Arabian Sea would carry a similar capacity.
The daunting task of constructing an oil pipeline that reaches the Arabian Sea is not impossible, as Aramco has already built several such projects, including the East-West pipeline from the Arabian Gulf to the Red Sea, a 1,200-km feat of engineering built in 1981.
The Tapline pipeline, with a length of 1664 km — which extends from the coast of the Arabian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, passing through several countries in the region — was unveiled in 1950.
Some might argue that this pipeline project may be challenging as the area it would cross is mainly in the arid Empty Quarter desert. However, Aramco has already successfully built an oil pipeline through the Empty Quarter, a 645-km pipeline from Shaybah oil field to Saudi Aramco processing facilities further north.
Such a feat would be possible and reflect how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman are working to harmonize their visions to serve the two countries strategically in several economic and logistical sectors.
• Faisal Faeq is an energy adviser and columnist. He formerly worked with Saudi Aramco and OPEC Secretariat. Twitter: @faisalfaeq.