The Oman Society for Petroleum Services (OPAL), the umbrella organisation of energy sector entities in the Sultanate, is spearheading a pair of initiatives that will result in the creation of more than 1,700 jobs for Omani nationals in fuel logistics and fuel station management services.
The jobs are among thousands of potential positions that are expected to be spawned over the next several years as OPAL joins forces with the Ministry of Labour and other stakeholders to ramp up Omanisation in a number of key sectors.
“We are happy to be working alongside the Ministry of Labour and other public and private sector organisations in facilitating the creation of new career opportunities for Omanis in various spheres within and outside the energy sector,” said Abdulrahman al Yahyaei (pictured), CEO.
“OPAL is leveraging its considerable expertise and market insight to support the ministry in the identification of trades and occupations for Omanisation, as well as to ensure the timely and effective delivery of these initiatives.”
The first initiative calls for the complete localisation of Fuel Station Managers positions across the Sultanate.
With all 655 filling stations distributed across the Sultanate currently managed by expatriates, the move will effectively open up 655 positions for qualified nationals, according to Al Yahyaei.
“There’s a clear-cut timeframe for the achievement of this objective,” said the CEO. “If all goes according to the plan, we expect to see the majority, if not all, of the Station Manager positions Omanised. In fact, a high-level panel with representatives from OPAL, the ministry and the three fuel marketing companies of Oman will be meeting every quarter to monitor progress in the implementation of this programme based on a time-bound performance dashboard. All of the stakeholders are committed to seeing this through.”
Despite previous efforts to Omanise some positions in fuel stations, Omanisation has long remained elusive in this sector, says Al Yahyaei.
“Barring the odd national working in the convenience store or some other retail outlet leased to a private business, it’s unlikely that fuel stations employ any Omanis. But, going forward, the Ministry of Labour will stop issuing new clearances or the renewing licenses of expat Station Managers.
OPAL, for its part, will also provide a list of the owners of these filling stations to the ministry, which will prohibit new expat hires as fuel station managers.”
Speaking to the Observer, Al Yahyaei urged qualified Omani candidates to consider promising careers as Fuel Stations Managers. “This localisation programme offers a great opportunity for Omanis to grow their managerial skills and capabilities. As Fuel Station Manager, they will supervise a full complement of staff and oversee the full value chain of the business, encompassing sales and marketing, finance and accounts, HR, inventory management, real estate services, and so on. This experience will prepare the candidates as entrepreneurs in the future, should they plan to start their own business.”
To ensure that localisation of these positions is carried out in the spirit of the programme, OPAL has been tasked with certifying the competency of the Omani candidates selected for the posts through its Sector Skills Unit, which will conduct assessments and issue competency cards for a wide range of jobs in the energy sector.
This will help safeguard against sham appointments designed to maintain the status quo, he said.
Candidates with the requisite qualifications will also receive training support from the fuel marketing companies covering all aspects of the retail business.
Significantly, OPAL is also supporting the Ministry of Labour in the delivery of close to 1,000 jobs for Omanis following a decision by the government to Omanise the operation of fuel tanker trucks in the Sultanate by June 1, 2021.
“OPAL, along with the ministry and fuel marketing companies, are working together to ensure that qualified Omanis will the sole drivers of the road tanker fleet transporting fuel to the different parts of the Sultanate. We hope we can achieve our target of creating around 1,000 jobs for Omanis as a result’’, Al Yahyaei added.