Sultan Qaboos forms committee to amend constitution, expand parliament authorities

The Sultan orders $260 bonus for Omani citizens

Dry dock to receive first ship for repair, maintenance next month

Omani invents reactor to control gas leak

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said has issued a Royal Decree No. 42/2011 specifying the working period of the committee set up by Royal Decree No. 38/2011, abolishing the Ministry of National Economy.

Article one: The committee stipulated in the aforesaid Royal Decree shall have a period not more than two months to complete its works.

Article two: HE Sheikh Dr Abdulmalik Bin Abdullah Bin Zahir Al Hinai, Adviser at the Ministry of Finance, shall be delegated with the task of managing the necessary works of the abolished ministry in coordination with the Secretariat-General of the Council of Ministers.

Article three: The decree comes into force from its date of issue.

In another decree, His majesty has promoted Lt Gen. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Nu’amani, Minister of Royal Office, to the rank of General.

Royal Decree No. 41/2011 Article one: Promotes Lt Gen. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Nu’amani, Minister of Royal Office, to the rank of General.

Article two: The decree comes into force from its date of issue.

The Shura Council on Wednesday praised the reforms taken by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, especially those granting the Council of Oman legislative and audit powers.

HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Isa’ee, Chairman of the Shura Council, said the selection of five ministers from the Shura Council members and two from the ex-members as part of the Council of Ministers or on top of certain public organizations reflects His Majesty’s respect to the opinion of the citizens represented by Shura members. It also affirms the confidence of His Majesty in the Council, he said.

Later, the Council elected two deputies for its chairman and a member at an extraordinary session on Wednesday.

Yunis Bin Sabil Bin Issa Al Balushi and Abdullah Bin Khalifah Bin Khamis Al Ma’jali were elected as the deputies after winning the largest number of votes in a secret poll contested by 11 candidates.

Yasser Bin Hamoud Bin Rashid Al Ma’amari was elected as the member after winning a poll contested by nine candidates.

The positions became vacant after some of the members were given ministerial and other posts by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in his recent cabinet shuffle.

Two members were appointed as chairmen of State Audit and Administrative Institution (SAAI) and Tender Board.

The elections are valid for the remaining period of the sixth term (2007-2011).

The members also praised His Majesty for the formation of a technical committee as per a Royal Order to prepare the draft amendment to the Basic Law of the State to achieve these powers.

The Council expressed its deep thanks and appreciation to His Majesty and pledged before His Majesty and the nation to carry out the responsibilities to the nation.

Isaee said the Council played an important role in conveying the real picture and the legitimate demands of the citizens to His majesty with transparency and clarity after the peaceful demonstrations by the citizens demanding political, social and economic reforms.

He said His Majesty’s response to such demands has been quick and reflected real feeling of the needs of the people.

Isa’ee said the wise Royal decrees and orders of His Majesty will push forward the wheels of economic, social, political and legislative development in the Sultanate to enhance the previous stages outlined by His Majesty in the last 40 years.

The Council also discussed its call on the respective authorities of the state to take the necessary measures to protect the public and private property.

The Council, even as it stressed the importance of freedom of expression and demanding of rights, condemned the vandalism, irresponsible acts and practices that violate the laws, legislations, regulations in force and the authentic cultural values of Omanis.

The Council prayed to Almighty to protect His Majesty, as an inspiring leader, safeguard Oman and its loyal people and shower blessing on them.

He said the Royal Decree granting the Council of Oman the legislative and audit powers and the formation of a technical committee to amend the Basic Law of the State to achieve this purpose is a milestone in the powers of Shura history.

“It affirms that the Sultanate has entered a new and advanced stage in practicing democracy, satisfying the aspirations of the citizens,” he said.

He also called on everyone to return to work for pushing forward the development march of the nation.

The Shura Council, under the chairmanship of HE Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Isa’ee, approved minutes of the previous meeting and reviewed follow-up table of implementing the office’s resolutions on Wednesday.

The office reviewed issues listed on the agenda, including the vacancy of seven members’ representatives of the wilayats and some positions at the Council in light of the Royal Decrees appointing them in ministerial positions.

The Shura Council office also reviewed the letter from the General Secretariat of the UN Convention on Combating Desertification and the memorandum of the General Secretariat of the members countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) requesting the nomination of two experts to take part at the drafting committee for the Islamic Parliamentary Declaration. It also reviewed the letter of the International Parliamentary Union on the inputs of the first international parliamentary report, the letter of workers at Al Wafa Centre on amending the status of Al Wafa Centre and disabled.

At the meeting, the office reviewed the invitation forwarded to Shura Council to take part in the media seminar of the IPU from May 23 to 27 in Geneva.

The Shura also discussed the memorandum of the General Secretariat for the Union Council of the OIC member-countries decided during the third session held in Abu Dhabi during January 2010.

The office also reviewed the report of the Shura delegation which took part in the second regular session of the Arab Transit Parliament which was held in Cairo from Dec. 16 to 20, 2010.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said has restructured the Council of Ministers as follows:

Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers.

Sayyid Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said Minister of Heritage and Culture.

Sayyid Khalid Bin Hilal Bin Saud Al Busaidi Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court.

Lt. Gen. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Numani Minister of the Royal Office.

Sayyid Badr Bin Saud Bin Harib Al Busaidi Minister Responsible for Defense Affairs.

Sayyid Hamoud Bin Faisal Bin Said Al Busaidi Minister of Interior.

Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdullah Bin Zaher Al-Hinai Minister of Justice.

Darwish Bin Ismail Bin Ali Al Balushi Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al Salmi Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs.

Dr Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Saif Al Rumhy Minister of Oil and Gas.

Hamed Bin Mohammed Bin Mohsin Al Rashdi, Minister of Information.

Dr Rawiyah Bint Saud Bin Ahmed Al Busaidiyah Minister of Higher Education.

Eng. Ali Bin Masoud Bin Ali Al Sunaidy Minister of Sports Affairs.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Marhoon Bin Ali Al Ma’amari State Minister and Governor of Dhofar.

Sheikh Saif Bin Mohammed Bin Saif Al Shabibi Minister of Housing.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Abdullah Al Bakri Minister of Manpower.

Dr. Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Obaid Al Sa’eedi Minister of Health.

Dr Madiha Bint Ahmed Bin Nasser Al Shibaniyah Minister of Education.

Ahmed Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Shuhi Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources.

Dr Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Salim Al Futaisi Minister of Transport and Communications.

Sheikh Khalid Bin Omar Bin Said Al Marhoon Minister of Civil Service.

Sheikh Sa’ad Bin Mohammed Bin Said Al Mardhouf Al Sa’eedi Minister of Commerce and Industry.

Sayyid Saud Bin Hilal Bin Hamad Al Busaidi State Minister and Governor of Muscat.

Dr Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Said Al Sa’eedi Minister of Legal Affairs.

Sheikh Abdulmalik Bin Abdullah Bin Ali Al Khalili Minister of Tourism.

Dr Fuad Bin Ja’afar Bin Mohammed Al Sajwani Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mohammed Bin Salim Bin Said Al Toobi Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Said Bin Saif Al Kalbani Minister of Social Development.

Secretary General for the Council of Ministers

Sheikh Al Fadhl Bin Mohammed Bin Ahmed Al Harthy Secretary General of the Council of Ministers.

Sheikh Nassir Bin Hilal Bin Nassir Al Ma’awali Chairman of the State Audit and Administrative Institution with minister’s rank.

Dr Rasheed Bin Al Safi Bin Khamis Al Huraibi Chairman of the Tender Board with minister’s rank.

Eng. Mohsen Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al Sheikh Adviser at the Diwan of Royal Court with minister’s rank.

Dr Abdulmalik Bin Abdullah Bin Zahir Al Hinai Adviser for the Ministry of Finance with the same rank and financial allocations.

Dr Hamad Bin Said Bin Suleiman Al Ofi Undersecretary for Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Dr Is’haq Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Ruqaishi Undersecretary for Agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Meanwhile, the Oman Dry-Dock Company (ODC) is set to welcome its first vessel for repairs next month, effectively marking the trial launch of its world-class ship repair yard at Duqm on the Wusta coast.

While most of the facilities set out in the Original Contract for the infrastructure development of the dry dock are essentially in place, some additional works will be completed in due course, according to state-owned company. Power supply to the facility will commence this month, but the project’s water requirements will initially be met through temporary supplies pending the completion of permanent supply facilities sometime next year.

Also due for completion next month are facilities for sanitation and communications, as well as a host of entertainment facilities including health clubs and sports amenities. However, the road network serving the facility is yet to be completed, it is learnt.

When fully operational, the Duqm dry dock project will also boast a range of facilities, including fresh water tanks, electric substations, and internal and external communication services for operations and communications with port control, ship crew, and so on.

The project’s development also entails the implementation of 17 major superstructure projects, related to the supply, installation and commissioning of equipment and plants for dry dock operations.

Also due for completion next month is a range of contracts for the supply and installation of workshop equipment and plants designed to produce gas (CO2, oxygen, and so on) to be used in cutting and welding of steel and so on.

High-tech voltage control and electricity distribution gear capable of handling loads of up to 30 MW have been installed at the yard. Also due to be brought into operation next month is an Air Compressor Plant that will be deployed primarily in the surfacing cleaning of ships, as well as a Wastewater Treatment Plan, which will treat wastewater received from dry-docked ships for potential re-use.

These facilities and services are in addition to the installation of utilities for distribution of water, collection of sewage, chemical treatment, and other facilities necessary to support the smooth operation of the dry dock.

Conceived as a fully integrated ship repair services hub, the Duqm dry dock features a pair of graving docks each of a world-scale 410-metres’ length. The graving docks are large enough to accommodate merchant ships of all sizes, including Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), Ultra Large Crude Carriers (ULCCs), fourth and fifth generation container ships, and other vessels of a maximum capacity of 600,000 DWT.

Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME), one of the world’s biggest shipbuilders, is ODC’s strategic partner in the operation and management of the yard.

Meanwhile, Dr Wa'el bin Saif al Harrasi, a young Omani inventor, has invented the first reactor of its kind that can utilize natural gas that is usually lost during oil extraction process and cannot be collected by the currently available techniques owing to its high cost. The existing method leads to a huge loss in natural gas estimated at 30 million cubic meters per year in the Middle East alone, which means a loss of more than $10 billion per year.

This was the idea behind the need for such an invention: to look for a less-expensive easy method to utilize these amounts of gas. This new technique should be mobile and small in size in order to move it from one site to another.

The whole idea of utilization of natural gas depends on transforming it into liquid since this state has lots of positives such as safety, low cost in transferring and storage.

In his research, Dr Wa'el focused in applying the principals of intensive chemical processes to reach to a new chemical process where the reactor is small in size and large in efficiency.

"After a year and a half of research, we came to the idea of using plasma in the chemical reaction and we started designing many types of reactors till we got to the most suitable one. The second stage was concentrated in choosing a co-factor, similar to the one used in the usual chemical reaction, and adjusting it to the new reactor," Dr Wa'el said and added: "The third stage included experiments for chemical reactions without using plasma and under a very high temperature and pressure, then doing the same reactions with plasma and stabilized pressure level (equal to atmospheric pressure) and the room temperature (25°C). Surprisingly, the result of the chemical reaction with plasma was astonishing since this experiment produced high portions of hydrocarbons. It is the first time around the world that such a reaction is being discovered and it would make a huge change in utilizing the natural gas quantities in my country and all countries around the globe."

Concept of the project

Regarding the source of the idea of his project, Dr Wa'el said: "The idea popped up during my training period in the PDO after I got my Masters. I noticed that large quantities of natural gas accompanied with oil are incinerated or disposed using very expensive methods. I did not initially grasp why we burn such wealth at a time all states work hard to maintain all sources of energy, and compete to secure energy resources for their people in various ways. When I asked the officials at the company about it their answer was that the current mechanisms are not economically feasible, despite the large volumes of gas burned because of the nature of our distant wells of gas in each well unless the production of gas was significant. This means that the only obstacle that stands before us in the exploitation of our natural resources is that the world did not find yet the best way that we can use to stop this. Thus, I decided to take this challenge and find a proper solution to this problem. I asked for assistance of one of my professors at the University of Newcastle in UK and he expressed his willingness to embrace the project, and we began our work.

Difficulties

On the other hand, Dr Wa'el talks about the difficulties he faced and said: "The first challenge that I faced is the lack of sources and references available. The idea of my research is completely new despite the massive number of topic related to energy fields. I had to study different scientific areas and develop linkage between them to ease the way for conducting experiments. Finally, I did that successfully.

"Also, I faced many difficulties in getting the instrumentation and analytical devices through foreign companies in China, US and Europe according to the project's budget. Besides, I had to design a new reactor by my own because of the high expense or the lack of suitable choice for my experiment so I took the option of developing my own," he said, and added: "Nevertheless, the most annoying thing at this stage is the delay caused by some agencies in providing me with the required devices and that caused to let me behind my deadlines and had to reschedule my tasks. In most of my practical tasks, I depended mainly on the workshop at the Department of Chemical Engineering, where I kept the progress of my work on track."

Cost of the project

The cost of the processing laboratory is of approximately RO 50,000. Yet, it is difficult to predict at the present time the cost of the project if implemented actually but experience shows that it is possible to reduce the cost of some devices using the technique devised with more than 93 per cent in addition to reduced energy consumption by approximately 88 per cent, compared to the current technology. These are promising results.

Patent

Regarding getting a patent for his invention, he said: "My supervisor and I are working on getting a patent registered in Europe, America and the Middle East and we hope it will be released shortly, God willing."

Gas conversion

Dr Wa'el also said that this project will help to take advantage of the quantities of natural gas is being wasted, which is estimated in the Middle East alone at $10 billion, according to The Times newspaper in March 2008. This invention can be used also to convert some of the gases emitted from factories and refineries to useful chemicals; The project has environmental and economic benefits.

It is worth mentioning that Dr Wa'el al Harrasi holds a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering Operations and Transformative Processes with honors from the University of Sheffield, UK, MS in Chemical Engineering and Sustainable Development with excellence and honors from the University of Newcastle, UK, and PhD in chemical engineering, through his thesis in modern mechanisms for the utilization of energy sources from the University of Newcastle, UK. He is also a member and a professor registered at the Academy of Higher Education in the United Kingdom.