Petroleum Development Oman is at the forefront of supporting employment, education, health, cultural, social and infrastructure schemes across the length and breadth of the country. Excerpts from an interview with Managing Director, Raoul Restucci
How is PDO as a company contributing to the social and economic development of Oman and Omani people?
PDO works on the principle that we only succeed if the communities where we operate succeed. Through a broad and diverse range of programmes and projects we support employment, education, health, cultural, social and infrastructure schemes across the length and breadth of the country.
As one of the key engines of the national economy, the company generates the value and resources to fund government and non-government initiatives, drive growth and help diversify and sustain the economy.
One major strategic focus is working with His Majesty’s government to generate greater employment opportunities for Omanis. For example, since 2011 our National Objectives programme has generated more than 20,000 job, training and redeployment opportunities for Omani nationals with our contractors.
Additionally, we are now moving to a new level of support beyond our natural boundaries in oil and gas to create more jobs in other sectors. In the summer, we signed an agreement with Oman Air to support the creation of 400 jobs at the new Muscat International Airport for Omani jobseekers and upskill a further 100 existing staff. We are also partnering with Fashion Apparels in the Salalah Free Zone to create 300 positions for women so they can work in the clothing industry. Going forward there will be more initiatives like this, alongside a new PDO manpower organisation called EMDAD which will focus on the provision of key skills and employment opportunities to help meet the growing demands in the Sultanate.
Every year, PDO allocates millions of rials to its social investment budget which is helping to transform the fortunes of many thousands of individuals and families across Oman. A key element of our success has been the close working relationship between PDO, the communities where we operate and all aspects of Omani society.
With this in mind, we have developed a structured Social Investment programme which is implemented in close collaboration with the Government through a joint Social Investment Committee.
This programme focuses on contributing to the growth of society and developing areas where we operate to achieve a mutually beneficial and sustainable environment for carrying out oil and gas operations.
Funding has been channelled to non-governmental organisations to help vulnerable members of society such as the blind and disabled and there has been special focus on projects that provide Omanis with the right skills to enter the job market or the ability to earn an income.
Underpinning this approach is PDO’s long-term aspiration to help secure sustainable benefits for the Sultanate as we carry out our core business of exploration and oil and gas production.
What are the socially impactful initiatives of PDO? How impactful are your CSR initiatives?
These are many and varied but cover the provision of job and training opportunities, vital community infrastructure projects and grants and donations to individual causes.
Despite the low oil price environment, our social Investment programme remains a significant means of helping and encouraging Omani communities and citizens to help build more sustainable futures for themselves. We work closely with our communities to gauge their needs and deliver targeted help to produce the most beneficial impact on their lives.
One such example is Banat Oman, PDO’s social enterprise initiative, which sponsors the vocational training of women from low-income backgrounds so that they can set up their own businesses or earn an income.
Hundreds of women have been given training in traditional Omani trades and crafts such as dairy product manufacture, tailoring, camel bone carving, and jewellery making. PDO has also been able to assist with the marketing of these artisan products and Banat Oman now has a number of commercial contracts with leading retail chains and hotels across the Sultanate.
Safety is PDO’s overarching priority and, as well as ensuring our own operations are as safe as they can be, we also work hard to embed a safety mindset and culture beyond our own installations. Given this focus and as part of PDO’s CSR programme, the Company has been working closely with the Royal Oman Police to spearhead a nationwide road safety programme called “Tell A Friend.” The campaign encourages more responsible driving and better vehicle maintenance. In recent years volunteers have travelled all over the country to spread the message and this year, we also sponsored defensive driving training for more than 200 school bus drivers and supervised health, safety and environment training for school staff to enhance the safety of children.
Education is a major focus area for PDO and every year we offer 200 scholarships to students from low-income families to primary, secondary and university degree levels which are designed to equip young Omanis with the knowledge and skills to succeed in academia and in their future careers.
We are also proud of our Baader project which enables our staff to volunteer their expertise and time free of charge to support non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as the Oman Association for the Disabled, Dar Al Atta, the Al Noor Association for the Blind and the Oman Cancer Association.
Can you elaborate on PDO’s contribution to in-country value programme to build a sustainable Omani industrial base?
Our In-Country Value strategy was developed to retain more of the oil and gas industry’s wealth in Oman by training and building a capable and skilled national workforce, developing a strong local supply chain and fostering diversification across the Sultanate’s wider economy. It’s about securing long-term sustainable commercial benefits by increasing the procurement of local goods and services through local community companies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and improving the capacity and capability of Omani people and companies.
Our National Objectives programme provides a steady supply of trained Omanis for the oil and gas sector in technical disciplines such as welding, electronics, instrumentation, mechanics, carpentry and scaffolding – skills which enable them to work at home and abroad. This year saw the graduation of the largest batch of National Objectives trainees – 596 – who can now all go on to support themselves, their families and their communities in rewarding and fulfilling jobs.
Moreover, PDO is a champion of the development of SMEs and has established and nurtured the growth of Local Community Contractors (LCCs) and Super Local Community Contractors – Omani-owned businesses providing core oilfield services. More than 4,000 Omanis are now working with SLCCs and LCCs in different disciplines and the businesses executed work to the value of $272.7mn in 2015– a 16% rise on 2014.
We also ring-fence scope in our contracts for local firms and are simplifying and streamlining our procedures so such vendors can more easily work with us. Last year, we awarded contracts worth US$3.7 billion to nationally registered companies.
What are the major innovations the company introduced in the industry?
PDO is a standard-bearer for technical innovation but it is technical innovation with a purpose. At any one time, we are trialing and testing 50-70 new technologies with the aim of achieving safer, more efficient and socially and environmentally responsible exploration and production.
For example, the Miraah project, being developed with our partners GlassPoint Solar in our Amal field in southern Oman, will create one of the world’s largest solar plants and produce steam for thermal enhanced oil and recovery (EOR) by harnessing the sun’s rays. Not only will this free up natural gas for other higher value applications across the economy but also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300,000 tonnes each year – the equivalent of taking 63,000 cars off the road.
The full-scale project will comprise 36 glasshouses, built in succession and commissioned in modules of four. The project is currently under construction with steam generation from the first glasshouse module expected to begin in 2017.
The use of solar for EOR is a long-term strategic solution to develop PDO’s heavy oil portfolio and reduce consumption of valuable natural gas, which is needed elsewhere to diversify Oman’s economy and create economic growth.
PDO remains committed to reducing its energy consumption and seeking new practices and technologies to treat and dispose of produced water. Our Nimr reed beds scheme in Marmul uses the power of nature – reeds – to filter contaminants. It is now processing more than 700,000 barrels of produced water every day at a fraction of the cost and energy intensity of conventional deep water disposal. This will save an estimated gas saving of 24 billion cubic feet over 10 years – a 98 per cent saving.
Furthermore, a number of initiatives have been implemented, including the use of energy efficient power generation turbines and waste heat recovery systems for thermal operations.
PDO is also breaking new ground in sour gas (gas containing significant concentrations of hydrogen sulphide) at Harweel, our first miscible gas injection EOR project and one of the most significant sour gas production plants in the Middle East. And we are making excellent progress on our mega projects at Rabab Harweel and Yibal Khuff, where we are attaining a whole range of technical firsts. For example, at Yibal Khuff we are implementing a state-of-the-art gas processing and sulphur recovery plant with a configuration that combines no fewer than seven different technologies and their associated utilities.