News: Oman's commercial drone market to reach $109m in five years

The Sultanate's lucrative drone market’s value will rise to $109 million (OMR41.92 million) in the next five years on the back of increased oil and gas and utilities activities, according to a report. The research forecast that the Gulf Cooperation Council-wide drone market should reach $1.5 billion with the rise in optimisation and cost reduction, and hence an increased dependency on automation and drones. “The $1.5 billion was the total market in 2022 for commercial drone applications. This is based on the Strategy & forecast. Saudi Arabia will be the largest market and Oman’s market size is expected to reach $109 million by 2022,” Ramzi Khoury, principal with Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), part of the PwC network, said. Drones have a large number of commercial applications, including exploration, inspection and maintenance of oilfields and utility plants. Apart from being much safer, they are more than 80 per cent cheaper and faster than conventional inspection techniques. This would also mean sites will not have to shut down to accommodate inspection work, saving millions in revenue. According to the report, drone powered oil and gas solutions will account for $633 million (OMR243.45 million), while utilities and mining will amount to $484 million (OMR186.19 million) and $115 million (OMR44.22 million), respectively. Other sectors will include public safety and infrastructure, telecom, logistics, agriculture, insurance and media. “In Oman, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) is already using Topcon’s drones for pipeline supervision, flare inspection, etc,” Khoury stated. The commercial drone market excludes personal and military drones. The recreational drone market, according to experts, can reach up to $65 million (OMR24.99 million) as Oman’s creative young generation looks forward to their use in photography and other leisure activities. Authorities are currently in the process of drafting a drone regulation that may encompass laws for the personal use of drones. “Despite the restrictive regulatory environment, the region’s authorities are introducing new regulations to reach an optimal balance between economic efficiency and public safety. Omani regulatory bodies (mainly PACA and NSA) have been working on new regulations to help companies use drones,” Khoury added. Currently, there is no regulation for individual use of drones in the Sultanate. The regulation under discussion may carry a capital punishment and jail term for individuals that do not follow the newly formed regulations or fly unlicensed drones. Earlier this year, Oman’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) said that an online form for obtaining a drone flying license is expected to be out in March; however, due to legislative procedures and other pending work for PACA, it has been delayed. It will be uploaded the moment the legislation is announced.

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