Driven by social conscience
PDO aims to design and deliver projects that meet immediate social needs, are sustainable and offer the opportunity for the communities to help themselves
As the leading exploration and production company in the Sultanate, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) delivers the majority of the country’s crude oil production and natural gas supply, generating a significant portion of the revenue needed for the nation’s progess under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Being the central engine of the economy gives the PDO the opportunity to act as an enabler for the development of Omani supply chains, employment, expertise and knowledge.
Says Mohammed al Ghareebi, external affairs & communication manager at PDO: “We are proud to have created more than 50,000 employment, training, redeployment and transfer opportunities for Omani jobseekers in both the oil and gas industry and other sectors since our National Objectives programme was launched in 2011. This year alone we aim to create 17,000 such opportunities, 19,000 in 2019 and 21,000 in 2020.”
PDO is an active supporter of, and participant in, the Tanfeedh programme on enhancing national economic diversification, and the company’s staff have made significant contributions to the energy, tourism, logistics, manufacturing and manpower labs. “We believe its approach, consisting of a comprehensive public consultation, identification of promising projects in a number of key sectors, and a dedicated follow-up unit is the right one,” says al Ghareebi.
He believes that the government has a crucial role as a facilitator, co-ordinator and supervisor to ensure a joined-up approach, so companies and organisations such as PDO, need to be ready to help incubate projects and businesses wherever possible and whenever called upon.
An increasingly significant area of PDO’s focus is energy and water management, energy conservation and renewable energy, where the company is looking for innovative solutions to a number of challenges which it needs to address in the current low oil price environment, but also to support the transition away from an over-reliance on fossil fuels.
“We believe there is real scope to make Oman a global hub of expertise in the field of “clean” energy given our climate and geographical position and are already working on key renewable energy projects, such as the giant Miraah solar complex with our partners GlassPoint Solar. There is a projected spend of $200bn regionally,” adds al Ghareebi. “Another potential growth area of Oman is tourism: our climate, our superb coastline and scenery, our welcoming people and our peaceful and safe environment are key pillars for transforming Oman into a world-class holiday and visitor destination.”
PDO has worked with both the aviation and hospitality sector on vocational training programmes for hundreds of young Omani jobseekers as well some sustainable tourism projects. The most recent was a project with the Ministry of Tourism to develop Al Hufq Geopark in Al Wusta, which includes Duqm Rock Garden and Al Wusta Wildlife Sanctuary. The company’s staff also regularly volunteer for beach clean-ups in their own time.
PDO aims to design and deliver projects that meet immediate social needs (to ensure these are impactful and can make a difference) are sustainable and offer the opportunity for our communities to help themselves. “It is essential that our projects align with government strategies and plans since ministries, along with grassroots organisations and municipal authorities, are our main partners in their delivery and help to ensure their sustainability and social impact,” says al Ghareebi.
PDO’s three areas of focus in 2017 were learning and research, where the company sponsors school facilities and equipment, for example; community infrastructure development, such as the provision of clean water supplies and safe spaces; and health, safety and environment, such as the provision of healthcare facilities and equipment. PDO’s social investment goals are fully aligned with UN’s sustainable development goals.
Adds al Ghareebi: “We are also committed to energy management, and the empowerment of Omani youngsters and women. In this latter respect, our Banat Oman social enterprise has so far provided vocational training for hundreds of women from low-income backgrounds in skills such as tailoring, embroidery, dairy product manufacture and jewellery design. At least four sustainable SMEs have been born out of this programme and are thriving, with one even recently signing a major deal to supply cheese to Qatar.”
On the education side, PDO also runs schemes, such as the annual community scholarship programme where it provides university education to scholars from its concession area so that they can acquire professional qualifications in local universities and colleges and become a productive resource for the nation. Currently, there are around 600 scholars in different local universes and colleges.
Another thing PDO is actively supporting is a sustainable education initiative called Tawteen to encourage scholars to be trained as teachers so they return work in schools in their communities in the concession area. PDO believes this will improve educational standards, as it will provide a more a stable learning environment and reduce the churn of staff. This could cover all 58 schools in our Block 6 concession area.
SME and ICV
Even though PDO has a rich heritage of entrepreneurship in Oman, as a country Oman is still at the start of a steep learning curve in terms of SME development in the modern marketplace. Securing adequate funding, a lack of managerial know-how, a reluctance of some to work in the private sector, a perception of excessive regulation and knowing how best to exploit modern technology – whether it be for manufacturing, marketing or communication – are all stumbling blocks.
However, PDO is working hard to overcome these challenges. Within the oil and gas industry, although PDO is highly specialised, there are significant opportunities for SMEs to participate. For example, some of the opportunities they could explore include: the provision of office supplies, catering services, communication and technology services, construction, transportation, fabrication and welding services, to name just a few.
Developing a strong local supply chain and supporting Oman’s SME sector are central planks of PDO’s in-country value (ICV) policy. This approach not only helps raise the capacity and capability of domestic businesses to compete nationally, regionally and internationally – creating thousands of meaningful job and training opportunities – but also reduces supply times and costs.
PDO has established community-based companies called Super Local Community Contractors (SLCCs), owned by local communities, to supply core oil and gas field services, and sustained them with technical, administrative and financial support. “We are now helping them move beyond oil and gas to explore other avenues, such as logistics, transport and construction. The cumulative total contract values of all four SLCCs with PDO now stand at more than US$1bn and last year we tripled our spend on SMEs to US$202mn from US$60mn in 2014,” explains al Ghareebi.
PDO has also played a critical role in the establishment of Omani factories, workshops and repair facilities offering in-country engineering services, equipment and materials to the oil and gas sector.
In an age where digital technology is king, PDO has set up a new web platform called Daleeli, aimed at Omani entrepreneurs and non-governmental organisations, as an easily accessible one-stop shop for those wishing to do business with us. Daleeli provides information, answers questions and streamlines the enquiry process. The service complements a user-friendly digital supplier relationship management system, called Rabitah, where vendors can register to work with PDO. Future tenders are also available on PDO websites to allow local businesses to prepare themselves for future contracts.
“We reserve scope in all our contracts for Omani SMEs who conform to our standards, and we also offer financial advice, technical support and run workshops covering important disciplines such as corporate governance, accounting, business ethics and marketing,” explains al Ghareebi.
PDO also enjoys a strong relationship with partners such as Riyada (the Public Authority for SME Development) and has recently launched a programme called Tazeez (Enhance) with its support. This consists of tailor-made training modules - in areas such as HSE, finance, PDO’s tendering process and quality management – that are delivered by PDO subject matter experts.
The company has launched Tazeez in August 2017 for 40 SMEs specialising in renewable energy – which the company thinks can be a rich growth area for Oman - and this year the programme was aimed at 20 firms based in oil and gas engineering, an area where PDO is looking to localise more of its contracts. In addition, some of the company’s expert staff participated in Riyada ‘Tawjeeh’ coaching programme, where they coach entrepreneurs.