Oman Picks State Street Saudi Chairwoman to Head Oil Company

Oman’s government named Haifa Al Khaifi as head of a new company that controls the country’s biggest oil block, a rare appointment for a woman in a male-dominated sector in the Middle East.

Al Khaifi will be chief executive officer of Energy Development Oman, which ultimately owns the sultanate’s 60% stake in Block 6, a huge field capable of producing around 650,000 barrels of crude each day.

She joins fromPetroleum Development Oman LLC, the Persian Gulf nation’s state-run oil and gas exploration and production firm, where she was chief financial officer. Al Khaifi is alsochairwoman of the Saudi Arabian unit ofState Street Corp., the Boston-based custodian and money manager.

Bloombergreported in November that Oman, which is struggling to finance a budget deficit that soared last year, may issue around $3 billion of bonds off the back of Block 6. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is advising the government on the plan, according to a person familiar with the matter.

EDO was set up in December and it holds a stake in PDO as well as the interest in Block 6, which contains about three-quarters of Oman’s oil. EDO is tasked with investing in conventional and renewable energy resources in the country and abroad.

Ibrahim Al Eisri was named chief financial officer, joining from wealth fund Oman Investment Authority.

Almost all large energy companies in the Middle East are still run by men, though the nations such as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have appointed women to senior positions at their state firms.

While Oman isn’t a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, it’s part of the cartel’s wider 23-nation grouping, known as OPEC+. That alliance has been curbing oil production since around May last year to prop up prices in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Oman pumped 722,000 barrels of crude a day last month. Royal Dutch Shell Plc holds 34% of Block 6, while Total SE owns 4% and Partex Oil & Gas 2%.

— With assistance by Turki Al Balushi

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