PROMISING POTENTIAL : Oil & Gas and Manpower ministries back OPAL initiative for entrepreneurship and national manpower development in oilfield sector –
Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, OCT 18 –
The Oman Society for Petroleum Services (OPAL), the umbrella body of oil and gas producers, contractors, vendors and service providers in the Sultanate, is set to launch today a landmark initiative that aims to not only provide skilled Omani manpower to the domestic Oil & Gas industry, but also to facilitate their export to markets across the GCC.
The initiative, dubbed ‘TA’SIS’ (meaning ‘foundation of creation’ in Arabic), will be unveiled in the presence of top officials of the Ministry of Oil & Gas, Ministry of Manpower, The Research Council (TRC), and a number of major upstream energy firms. Salim bin Nasser al Aufi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Oil & Gas, will be the Guest of Honour at the launch event.
TA’SIS, according to a high-level executive of OPAL, stems from the Redeployment Strategy that was implemented by the Omani government with the support of industry stakeholders, to secure alternative employment to thousands of Omanis who were laid off at the outset of the global oil price slump beginning in 2014.
“TA’SIS emerged as a potential solution to the problem of finding jobs for a section of the retrenched workers for whom alternative openings proved a challenge because of a significant mismatch between their skills and the labour market’s requirements,” said Abdullah al Harthy (pictured), TA’SIS Programme Director at OPAL.
“After much deliberation, we came up with the idea of a platform that would spawn the growth of Omani-owned and operated small and medium enterprises (SMEs) overseeing a pool of suitably trained oilfield workers who would be contracted to companies within and outside Oman. The initiative has the backing of the Ministry of Oil & Gas and Ministry of Manpower, as well as key stakeholders in the industry.”
Speaking to the Observer, Al Harthy said the TA’SIS project envisions the establishment of an SME jointly owned initially by around five Omanis drawn from the oilfield sector. The business focus of the SME will centre on the provision of drilling services manpower to companies operating anywhere in the Gulf region. The underlying objective is to cater to potential layoffs in this segment of the industry as the continuing downturn threatens to idle growing numbers of drilling rigs and hoists, the operation of which is predominantly handled by nationals, he noted.
“TA’SIS will be piloted with the planned launch of an SME dedicated to creating a pool of well-trained oilfield drilling services personnel. We are looking to select five individuals with long experience in drilling services, but willing to give up their current jobs and volunteer for a period of training and development to become entrepreneurs and business managers. These five people, upon the completion of their grooming, will then go on to establish the SME with active mentorship and support from the oil and gas industry,” said the executive.
Underscoring the strength of initial interest in the TA’SIS project, dozens of Omanis with skills in drilling services have registered to participate in the initiative, according to the Programme Director. Of this number, 63 candidates — including five women — hailing from different oilfield companies have been shortlisted. They will be carefully evaluated for their passion, commitment and dedication to entrepreneurship and employment generation. Only five of them will secure the nomination to form an SME, he explained.
A key part of the new SME’s mandate is to represent job-seeking Omani manpower with drilling services skills in the domestic and regional Oil & Gas markets. According to Al Harthy, a survey of the local market has identified the potential for around 50-100 Omanis proficient in some aspect of drilling services. But a review of the wider GCC market reveals far greater prospects for trained Omanis — an opportunity that OPAL, along with the Ministry of Manpower, will be looking to exploit via the TA’SIS project, he said.
“Towards this goal, we are scheduling visits to a number of GCC countries over November and December this year, with representatives from the Ministry of Oil & Gas and Ministry of Manpower to assess the uptake potential of these markets. OPAL’s goal target is to facilitate the export of around 250-400 Omani oilfield workers by the end of 2018.”
Support for the initiative from the drilling services sector in the Sultanate has been encouraging, said Abdullah. “Contractors and service-providers see TA’SIS serving an important national objective in terms of promoting SME development, nurturing Omani talent, and jumpstarting the export of Omani human capital.”