Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yep, that's it for the year! And Africa [Ghana] beat USA ...

I must say, local blogger and highly recompensed fly-boy Jet Driver called it right on his latest post: That's it this year in Oman folks, especially General-Government-achievement-wise.

The summer is here.

It's now officially Fcuking hot and humid for the next 3 months. As a result, everybody who can, basically goes on leave. Overseas. (I leave the cool temperate beauty of Salalah and its monsoon [aka the Khareef] to the Saudi', Dhofaris, and middle-class Batinah-coast Omanis.)

Along with the heat, mid August brings Ramadan. Great if you are Muslim and need to atone your sins. But also a time that along with the holy month finds all Omani bars, alcohol bulk stores, and decent restaurants closed for a month, even if you're not a Muslim. [Exceptions: Brave tourists (or rich residents) within reach of a 5 star hotel room mini-bar, or those with privileged access to an ROP or Omani Military bar which (naturally) remains open].

And after that, come the vast public week-long Eid holidays (parts one and two), plus National Day holidays, and then we are all just cruising down to pagan holidays and the New Year trying to spend our MONE approved Budgets.

And, that's it for 2010.

Omani public sector productivity has either been attained already, or that's all she wrote til January. The Private sector will struggle on, but even for them it's mainly a survival game, whipping the contractors to deliver..

I must confess: Undercover Dragon and Ms Dragon will be off too. To a nameless southern European destination (albeit via Switzerland) where the champagne and canapes flow, and the agreeable locals gladly accept visa/mastercard, topless sunbathing, ridiculous gaudy (branded) attire and large yachts, in equal abandon.

So, good luck and sympathy to anyone staying behind (such as stalwart expat blogger just back from vacation Muscat Mutterer).

I'm off in a couple of days, accompanied (naturally) by Ms. Dragon and her incredibly voluminous luggage, but I will try to keep up, blog-post-wise.

Re-entry to our gorgeous jewel of a Sultanate (if my employers are as generous as they promise wrt offers of increased treasure) will be in late August inshallah.

Summer in Oman is the time when all sensible Expatriates assess their opportunities to take the advice occasionally offered by so many ignorant inbred talentless never-worked-a-day-in-my-life Omani 20-something wannabes to 'leave if you don't like it here'...

Well, ... maybe we will. Let's see the offers. Abu Dhabi and Qatar are throwing some serious cash on the table of late.

Thankfully I have several 1st world passports, education, and a CV that enables me to move. My heart would always be left with the hard working Omani underclass: Indonesian maids*, Bangladeshi and Afghani laborers, and Filipino and Indian workers that don't have that easy option. And let's not forget the domestic underclass and still silent majority of non-wasta, hard-working, Omani working class and lower middle class, providing for their huge, extended, unemployed/under-employed families and (generally), up to their eyeballs in debt.

(* Especially the ones you see in the malls on a Friday afternoon: dragged around by their employers on what should be a day off, shepherding 7 or 8 screaming and spoiled children, and looking so desperately sad and depressingly empty in their body language and downward glances.)


Blue City
Everyone (who cares) is awaiting the Omani Supreme Court decision on Blue City's project ownership and (more importantly) control, due in the next few days. Watch this space.

The Israelis have not yet bombed Iran - thankfully. Iran's leadership (and Saudi) meanwhile keep trying to encourage them to do so. Hopefully they will listen to America (and everyone else) and keep their rattling sabres in the scabbard.

Who doesn't like a train?
It seems someone in Oman likes trains, and a whole lot. Laying tracks for trains may not make economic sense, but, after all, at least we can still have them built by Indian coolies, just like the Americans did 200 years ago (although their exploited coolies were Chinese, not Indian, and it was all paid for by private investors). Check out the proposed train route map on Muscat Mutterings. Can anyone explain the rationale for this?

BG Group Abu Butabul exit and GCC Gas
Speaking of uneconomic, my people have finished crushing the numbers on BG's recent exit from 8 TCF of gas in Block 60.

It seems while BG Group apparently could just about make a buck from the Abu Butabul gas field, with a gas price of around $2.25 per Mscf, their successes in Brazil and Australia mean they had better things to risk their money on. So they walked.

My in-the-know-technical people infer that - contrary to my rant earlier - actually BG's exit makes it even better for BP in block 61 with their even bigger Khazzan/Makarem fields, as the Government now has few other options, medium term gagging-for-gas as it seems to be.

Muscat Confidential continues to call for a true open-trade pan-GCC gas network as the only sensible option for the good of all - gas customers (Omani, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain) and gas suppliers (Qatar, Sausi, UAE, Kuwait, Oman...).

For god's sake guys, a real market price for spot gas, with volume combined with liquidity, would have so many benefits for all of you!
- if you have gas, you can price it and sell it (if you want to)
- if you need gas you can buy it (if you want too)
- if you subsidise power (as you all do...) you can price that subsidy.
- if you have influential gas buyers (like Oman Methanol) you can demonstrate what the gas you are giving them is actually worth
- if you have spare export LNG plant capacity (like Oman) you can sell spot LNG cargoes to China/Japan/Korea if the price margin is right
- if you have a need for gas generated power you can get the gas (if you pay)
- if you own a piece of the commiunal pipeline network you can get income
- if you have EOR projects that need gas, they can get it

The market will take care of the rest. (long vs short, big suppliers vs distributerd demand). If Qatar can supply gas cheaper and more efficient;y to Oman than Iran, or BP, great. Let's at least find out.) DME can provide the hedging, Qatar the money, and the rest of us the demand.

Enjoy the world cup. For once, Africa beat the USA...


  1. As per usual, spot on entry & good shout to all the low paid exploited, its a cruel world..

  2. It looks that the khareef this time will be great ^-^ unfortunately I have to go to Masukatto in a small mission. I'll have my skin dehydrated again. sigh.

    I'm not into soccer but well-done to Ghana. I'm sure they played well.

    Have a nice vacation.


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