Oil sector makes headway in meeting 5,000-job goal

The Oman Society for Petroleum Services (OPAL), the umbrella organisation of Oil & Gas operators, contractors, vendors and service providers in the Sultanate, says it is intensifying efforts to secure the sector’s commitment to creating 5,000 openings in response to His Majesty the Sultan’s Royal Directives to the public and private sectors to step up and provide 25,000 positions for Omani job-seekers by mid-year. As the representative body of the nation’s pivotal economic sector, OPAL is taking the lead in galvanizing industry-wide support in delivering on its pledge to pitch in with a fifth of the total target of creating 25,000 jobs. To date, it has garnered firm pledges committing around 1,900 jobs, and with less than four months to go before the May-end target, the Society is preparing to ramp up efforts to achieve its target for the sector.

Explaining OPAL’s role in contributing to this strategic national objective, Musallam al Mandhari (pictured), Chief Executive Officer, said: “OPAL has been charged with securing commitments of at least 4,000 jobs from Oil & Gas contractors and service providers, while the Ministry of Oil and Gas is working directly with the operators in contributing the balance 1,000 job opportunities. So OPAL’s commitment amounts to a roughly 80 per cent share of the total. We have six months through to end-May 2018 to deliver on this commitment.” In comments to the Observer, Al Mandhari said a high-level committee with representatives from OPAL, Ministry of Oil and Gas, and Ministry of Manpower, is now meeting on a daily basis to help nudge the sector in delivering on its goal.

“We are meeting with a handful of contractors daily to see how they can commit to this national objective by delivering on their Omanisation targets. Our objective is to work with each of these companies to see how we can support their Omanisation and training needs and thereby get them to set aside openings for Omani job-seekers.” While acknowledging that the task before OPAL is daunting, it must be delivered in the national interest, the CEO stresses. “It’s true the sector is hurting as a result of the low oil price environment, but where is the justification not to support employment creation for the huge numbers of Omani job-seekers while there are 1.8 million expatriates in employment in this country? Private sector companies not only have a national obligation to support this cause in light of the challenging economic environment the country is presently in, but they also required under their Omanisation commitments to deliver on this goal.”

OPAL plans to work with contract-holders to identify where the opportunities are for job creation among contractors and service providers, said Al Mandhari. While most of the large contractors are already substantially Omanised, the potential lies primarily with service providers, such as catering firms, engineering consultancies, construction companies, insurance firms and those on the periphery of the industry. Large players will nevertheless be called upon to support this drive by making incremental improvements to their Omanisation levels, he noted.

According to the CEO, the rationale that the Oil & Gas sector can indeed cough up 5,000 openings for young Omani job-seekers is based on Manpower Ministry statistics indicating that Omanisation levels average about 65 per cent in the sector, well below the 82 per cent target set for the industry. An estimated 15,000 expatriates are still employed in the sector, thereby offering enough scope for job creation for Omanis, he explained.
In addition to Omanisation, OPAL also plans to leverage the In-Country Value (ICV) option to coax oilfield companies to commit to job creation within their organisations. Most contracts awarded by the operators require the contractors to commit to Omanisation, local procurement and other localisation targets.

Conrad Prabhu