Mohammed Ali Al Farsi, GM- External Affairs & Business Development, Shell Oman Marketing, talks about how the company’s strategy that targets a wide range of initiatives to drive social awareness and contribute to the well-being of the local communities, as part of its business plan
Shell Oman Marketing Company (Shell Oman) is committed to meet the country’s growing fuel demands and contribute to its prosperity in an economically, environmentally and socially responsible manner, while sharing benefits with the Omani society. “Contributing to sustainable development is integral to the way we do business,” says Mohammed Ali Al Farsi, GM- external affairs & business development. “As we aim to bring benefits to local communities through our operations and business, we support the economic development in Oman while delivering our commitment to sustainable development and making a lasting difference in the society through creating in-country-value in our business activities. For example, we employ and develop Omani talents, work with local contractors and suppliers and maintain standards of health, safety, security and environment (HSSE).”
He says that this commitment has been well-received by the society and the relevant stakeholders as Shell Oman was recognised by the Ministry of Manpower for its outstanding contribution to the employment of national manpower, leading the category in the retail and marketing sector with an Omanisation rate of approximately 90 per cent. In addition, Shell Oman was awarded by Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry for its support to entrepreneurship in the Sultanate, in collaboration with Intilaqaah.
From a social investment point of view, Shell Oman put in place an annual social investment plan and has developed a strategy that targets a wide range of initiatives to drive social awareness and contribute to the well-being of the local communities in Oman, as part of its business plan.
Asked about the socially impactful initiative of the company, Mohammed replies, “Shell Oman’s strategic social investment themes include road safety, environment and community development. In addition to the targeted strategic social investment initiatives planned at the beginning of every year, Shell Oman keeps a window open for a dialogue with the Omani community in terms of social investment through a donations and sponsorships budget. The budget intends to address the requests received from various organisations, charities and entities in Oman, and work closely in way that will create a sustainable and long-term impact. This approach allows Shell Oman to build on its strategic long-term relationships with its stakeholders in the public and private sector as well as non-government organisations and youth charity groups.”
Shell Oman partnered with various charitable organisations through direct financial support as well as organising and co-sponsoring various internal and external initiatives that help raise awareness and funds for the cause of these organisations. This includes Oman Cancer Association, Association of Early Intervention for Children with Disability, Al Noor Association for the Blind, Oman Road Safety Association, Blood Bank, Down Syndrome Association, Dar Al Atta and many others. Shell Oman continues to play a role in the country’s economy by supporting major national events such as Muscat and Salalah festivals that help promote tourism in Oman. Committed to promoting road safety awareness, Shell Oman works closely with Royal Oman Police (ROP) Traffic School and ROP School by supporting various initiatives and competitions.
In recognition of Shell Oman’s consistent and significant achievements that go beyond the balance sheet, it was presented with the prestigious ‘Award for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility’ in 2014 by Alam Aliktisaad Wal A’mal (AIWA).
Elaborating on the company’s contribution to SMEs and to generate in-country value to build a sustainable Omani industrial base, Mohammed adds, “Our commitment to sustainability is embedded within our operations and is essential to the longevity of our business and our role as a member of society. Shell Oman plans and executes projects and runs facilities to create lasting social benefits by creating jobs and business opportunities within Shell Oman’s businesses and supply chain, using local suppliers and contractors. Therefore, Shell Oman has helped create and sustain long-term relationships with Omani Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in our daily operations. For example, Shell Oman supports Omani SMEs by enabling them to operate Shell Service Stations as retailers either solo or in clusters. The SMEs get the opportunity to grow their investment through a proven business model that is backed by access to global knowhow. Besides the tremendous business potential, they also benefit from continuous and extensive knowledge-transfer as well as marketing, training and technology support from Shell Oman. In fact, Shell Oman does not operate any of its 178 service stations and thus provides a good business opportunity for Omani enterprises to leverage.”
I addition, the company made a long term strategic decision back in 2010 to distribute fuel to its retail network of 178 strategically-located service stations across the Sultanate only using Omani SMEs as transporters which has been in line with its commitment to create in-country-value within our supply chain.
Shell Oman owns and operates the only ISO-certified Lubes Blending Plant in the Sultanate, which produces Made-in-Oman Shell-branded lubricants and greases to meet to the local market needs in addition to exporting it to many countries in Asia and Africa; creating value for the national economy.
Mohammed furthers, “Moreover, our commitment to sustainable development means that the company has deployed significant investments to become the first to introduce numerous breakthrough technologies to the market. Shell Oman constantly innovates to adapt with the ever-changing market conditions, customer expectations and business environment in order to provide long-term value and world-class products and services to the customers and stakeholders.”
He adds, “Shell Oman has always been the pioneer in the industry in bringing the latest and innovative products and services to Oman.” Shell Oman leverages a global Shell network of many R&D centres with thousands of scientists and technical specialists working on a broad spectrum of projects, such as turning natural gas into more efficient and cleaner fuels and lubes, improving energy efficiency for customers, and developing solutions to address customer and industry challenges. For example, Shell Oman was the first Fuel Marketing Company to bring 24-hours convenience retailing and provide fuel cards. Some of the other examples include:
Shell Super: Extra Kilometres at No Extra Cost
Shell Oman launched its Shell Super with an improved fuel economy formula, especially designed to give “extra kilometres at no extra cost” by helping combat efficiency losses caused by deposits’ build ups and friction in vehicles’ engines that can harm engine performance over time. With a cleaner engine, customers can get better combustion so the fuel is used with greater efficiency and lower CO2 emissions.
Shell Diesel Extra
Shell Diesel Extra is available in Oman for commercial fuel customers. It is designed to help engines burn more efficiently and deliver more fuel economy over the lifetime of the vehicle so fleet operators get the most of their transport vehicles. Shell Diesel Extra has been specially formulated to help save fuel by up to 3 per cent, reduce fall-off in engine performance and lower CO2 emissions and black smoke.
Shell PurePlus Technology
Shell Helix with PurePlus technology is a revolutionary gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology which is used to design pure, synthetic base oil from natural gas for lubricants and combine it with active cleansing technology to help deliver higher levels of protection against build-up of engine deposits and unsurpassed sludge protection. The product provides superior wear and corrosion protection which can help to extend engine life and reduce maintenance costs. Products within the Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology range can deliver an improvement of up to 3 per cent in fuel economy.
Shell’s ‘Superpave’ technology of Polymer Modified Bitumen (PMB) is a testament to Shell Oman’s commitment to the Sultanate’s growth story by supplying the new Muscat International Airport and Salalah International Airport projects with PMB for the new runways. The new technology of (PMBs) is designed to maximise resistance to permanent deformation and reduce fatigue of asphalt mixtures that are used in the most demanding locations, and therefore contributing towards substantial cost reduction in the long run while extending the pavements’ lifetime.
Talking about innovative customer experience, Mohammed avers, ”As the only fuel marketing company in the Sultanate with an integrated automation and online connectivity of all service stations with the headquarters, monthly prices updates have been effectively managed via a remotely-controlled online platform without any disruption in operations or inconvenience to the customers.”
The company made a strategic and farsighted investment of about RO3mn in a major upgrade of its retail IT infrastructure, internally known as the Hayat Project. As part of the project, the IT infrastructure was completely revamped with state-of-art capabilities and achieved total automation of retail sites, and enabled online connectivity between all retail sites and the company’s headquarters. Significant improvements and innovations in customer experience are now being offered to retail business-to-customers (B2C) as well as business-to-business (B2B) sector, such as the introduction of Customer Interface Screens (CIS) and the new fleet management system, Shell Vehicle Recognition System (VRS) with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
In line with Shell Oman’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and developing Omani talents, Shell Oman signed MoU with Ministry of Higher Education to launch Shell Ideas360 competition for the first time in the Sultanate in September 2016. Shell Ideas360 is a global competition that invites university and college students from all around the world to create, share and collaboratively develop innovative ideas and solutions that tackle global challenges associated with energy, water and food resources.
The company also launched Shell Eco-Marathon in the Sultanate, and sponsored the participation of three Omani teams from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), German University of Technology (GUTech) and Caledonian College of Engineering to participate in the Shell Eco-marathon Asia. Under Shell Eco-marathon competition, students can either design a prototype vehicle, which focuses on maximum efficiency or an urban concept vehicle, which encourages more practical designs for every-day life. The competition provides a great opportunity for students to experience what it is like to translate their engineering skills into tangible products, and to work as teams to manage a real business project as young entrepreneurs. The Shell Eco-marathon is a global competition for student teams to design and build ultra-fuel efficient cars, held each year in Europe, the United States and Asia.