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A long-term research strategy

Article - November 14, 2012
The Research Council (TRC) in Oman is set to lead the way in the development of a national plan for scientific research within the sultanate
Established in June 2005 by Royal Decree, the policy-making body and funding agency is responsible for encouraging and promoting research, innovation and science to create value for business, markets and to enhance the needs of the wider society.

The formation of TRC is a significant step in the scientific development of Oman. Research is fundamentally important for a nation to build its economic growth and prosperity and Oman, with its rich oil reserves, will prosper from the formation of this new body.

TRC has developed a National Research Strategy for Oman. Dr Hilal Ali Al Hinai, Secretary General of The Research Council, said: “When we started developing the strategy and programmes for TRC, we had to take stock of what we have in terms of research capacity.

“The challenge is how to capture value not only from knowledge generated through domestic research but also the knowledge available internationally. In our research strategy we support knowledge generation via research but we are also trying to complete the cycle, so that we capture value from research expenditure. The value could be in finding a solution to a social problem, or creating jobs for the young people coming out of the education system.”
The main themes of the National Research Strategy, which are linked to the Sultanate’s overall development plans, are: achieving research excellence in fields of national importance; creating a supportive environment for research; and disseminating knowledge and utilising academic research.

One important area of strength for TRC is the oil industry within Oman. Challenging oil reservoirs require new technologies for recovery of the more difficult to reach reserves. Oman has become respected internationally for using the latest Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) technologies in its reservoirs.

EOR can be used as a vehicle for developing research and innovation capacity to meet the needs of the country in areas such as renewable energy. For example, gas is currently used to heat steam which is pumped into the ground to reduce viscosity of the oil, improving recovery rates. With funding from the TRC, researchers may be able to develop solar energy for heating steam, rather than using gas.

The Research Council plans to build on the expertise from Oman’s oil and gas industry to carry out internationally recognised research into contemporary ways of working.