Shell Development Oman’s social investment and business choices harness a steadfast commitment to a lower-carbon future delivered through long-term sustainable programmes
With sustainability firmly locked in its core ethos, Shell Development Oman works with governments, academics and industry specialists, and partner with companies and organisations to help meet the world’s growing energy needs.
“We share ideas and expertise to help encourage innovation. We work with others to help reduce our impact on the environment and on people, to improve the quality of nature around us and to enhance benefits to local communities by implementing social investment programmes,” says Muna Al Shukaili, general manager – external relations and social investment lead at Shell Development Oman. “Our social investment and business choices harness a steadfast commitment to a lower-carbon future delivered through long-term sustainable programmes.”
Designed to both educate the future generation and promote the transition to renewable energy sources, the ‘Solar into Schools’ programme was announced as Shell’s fifth gift to the nation in 2015 and involves the installation of solar photovoltaic technology to power at public schools. “It reflects our dedication to put clean energy into classrooms to create a long-term impact on the environment and financial market of the country,” explains Muna. “We are proud to say that we have enhanced the lives of over 1,000 people with 73.5 tonnes/annum CO2e saved from each solar school. This is a good indicator that Shell Development Oman has the right tools to manage this large scale project and is on track to achieving its goal to have 22 operational solar schools in the Sultanate in the next five years.”
Part of the project is also a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programme called ‘NXPlorers’ which aims to raise awareness on emerging concerns in the energy sector and inspire Omani youth in the field to explore the world of renewables and STEM. A major component to the ‘Solar into Schools’ programme focuses on providing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) an opportunity to explore this renewable, a new market segments that can contribute to Oman’s future energy landscape.
Backbone of Omani economy
Supporting SMEs is a priority for the industry’s social investment agenda. Shell continues to explore different means to support the SME sector in Oman, not only through investing in their training and contracting opportunities, but also by leveraging the company’s global expertise and local partnerships to better support this budding sector of the economy.
In 1995, the company introduced Shell Intilaaqah Oman, part of the global Shell Livewire social investment initiative. A long-standing initiative, Shell Intilaaqah Oman aims to support entrepreneurs by stimulating their innate imagination, while ensuring they acquire the skillsets to formulate and develop their business ideas and make them a reality. In 2018, Shell Intilaaqah Oman launched ‘Aspire and Inspire’, an evolved edition of the two-decade old social investment programme to continue empowering Omani talent. The new interactive platform is dedicated to entrepreneurs who aspire to create their own business ventures, once successful, continue to inspire their communities, making a positive impact on Oman’s social and economic development. The latest edition of the programme focuses on empowering participants to take calculated risks to excel in their business journey, in order to be able to inspire others by sharing the valuable lessons they learned along the way. “To date, we are proud to say that we have trained 10,000 Omani entrepreneurs,” says Muna.
Safer roads for all
Road safety is an integral part of Shell’s business in Oman and is an area which the company believes it can contribute effectively, by raising awareness in various communities, including its own staff, stakeholders and joint venture partners. In 2018, Shell signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), Oman LNG (OLNG) and Shell Oman Marketing (SOM) and Oman Road Safety Association (ORSA) to launch a child seat campaign called ‘keep them safe’. With the support of the Royal Oman Police (ROP), the company formed an executive committee, and is working closely with ORSA to raise awareness to ensure that child seats are a driving force in enhancing the safety of children from injuries and fatalities on Oman roads, in line with government’s efforts and recent passed legislation.
In close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Shell is able to bring communities together through the Shell Road Safety Awards. With over 1000 schools participating over the years, this annual nationwide road safety awareness competition aims to create a generation that fully comprehends and understands the basics and complexities of road safety. Year on year, the competition receives enthusiasm and excitement. As a result, innovative and creative road safety projects that ranged from social media campaigns, music videos, short videos and plays were introduced in schools and within the community. The amount of social media buzz Shell Road Safety Awards received this year was impressive, with schools and students utilising the platform to showcase their projects. The official hashtag of the competition was trending across Oman for more than a week. The commitment shown from the students and schools was very inspiring. The best projects will be recognised later in September of this year.
Shell is also a founding member of the Oman Road Safety Association (ORSA), the first and only registered non-governmental road safety organisation established under the Ministry of Social Development. ORSA strives to make roads in the Sultanate of Oman the safest in the world. Its mission is to reduce road traffic death and injury from road crashes and help implement a comprehensive approach to post crash social effects.
Inspiring next generation
With its commitment to fostering innovation and inspiring the next generation of engineers, the Shell Eco-Marathon is an initiative that Shell started decades ago, motivated by a desire to involve the creative minds of young people in the transition towards a more sustainable and low-carbon energy future. The competition is a hub for innovation, networking, collaboration and finding solutions to the global energy challenge, not to mention the international exposure that the students receive, opening them to a pool of new opportunities. In 2018, Team ‘Megalodon’ from German University of Technology (GuTech) proudly represented Oman at the Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2018 in Singapore. The team took third place in the prototype diesel category and a commendable 17th place out of 30 in the prototype internal combustion class. The teams were challenged to design, build and test ultra-energy-efficient vehicle. The Omani team competed against 122 student teams from 18 countries in Asia and the Middle East. In the 2019 edition, both GuTech and the Caledonian College of Engineering will be participating.
In addition, Shell is the founding partners of Outward Bound Oman which was first launched in 2009. Over 3,000 young Omanis have benefited from this one-of-a-kind experience.
Shell Development Oman’s commitment to the country extends to promoting and sustaining its biodiversity: helping preserve its spectacular natural habitat. In partnership with the Ministry of Environment & Climate Affairs, Shell Development Oman supported the first full spring bird migration count of the Wetlands Reserve in Al Wusta Governorate which includes the Barr Al Hikman peninsula. The survey revealed that over 300,000 birds of approximately 80 different species have made the intertidal wetland on the coast of Oman their home for resting and feeding during their annual migration. The survey was supported, organised and conducted by Wetlands International, a global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands. The key observations made have contributed to the preservation of Oman’s intricate, essential ecosystem and shows just how far Shell’s essential environmental responsibility extends.
In addition, Shell Oman has a track record of supporting environmentally-driven research programmes with Environment Society of Oman (ESO) like the Whale and Dolphin Research Group, the Arabian Leopard Research, the Egyptian Vulture Research Project as well as the acoustic research of Arabian Sea Humpback Whales.
In the professional realm, Shell provided internship programmes to introduce Omani youth to the world of work and equipping them with the necessary skill-sets to make them employable. There have been many occasions where graduates from the internship programmes have been recruited at Shell Development Oman. Another prime example is the ‘Shell chair’ which was a joint endeavor with Sultan Qaboos University to develop research capabilities in the field of Petroleum Geosciences. The purpose of the chair is to encourage Omani students to pursue Master’s and PhD degrees in their respective fields of study.
For over 10 years, Shell has introduced the ‘Shell Professional Courses’ that are designed to empower individuals with soft skills ranging from strategic thinking and leadership techniques to project management. This has benefited over 3,000 Omanis from the government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the public sector and the private sector.
“We are also continuously supporting different government entities on a number of initiatives,” says Muna. “We signed a Memorandum of Commitment with the Ministry of Civil Services to strengthen their HR processes and systems; and with the Supreme Council for Planning we are working together on components that are related to energy transition in Vision 2040. In partnership with our joint ventures, we conducted a training for the Royal Oman Police along with other government bodies on ICS 300, an emergency response system that effectively manages emergency incidents within the workplace.”
She adds, “Our approach to Omanisation at Shell is evident in every investment we make. We have been stakeholders in PDO for more than five decades, more than two decades in Oman LNG and six decades in Shell Oman Marketing Company. All of these companies have been recognised for their efforts in ensuring higher Omanisation rates and have been supporting the government’s drive in recruiting fresh graduates. The progress our joint venture partners have made is a testament to our commitment to nurturing and developing the talent pool in Oman. There are also a number of Omanis in numerous Shell Group companies around the world working in management positions in The Hague, Iraq, and Brunei to name but a few.”
Commitment and contribution to generate talent in Oman remains a priority for Shell Development Oman. “We are proud to see that many former employees of our partners are now leading the nation forward. Through our programs and initiatives, we hope to foster a pipeline of young Omanis who are eager to work and contribute to Oman’s journey towards renewable energy and to the nation’s prosperity and sustainability,” says Muna.
Recently, Shell signed an MoU with Oman Oil Company (OOC), the Sultanate’s investment arm in energy to enable secondment opportunities between the two companies as part of Shell’s commitment towards talent development.
“Our aim is to continuously deliver social investment programmes that build local capacity in different regions in the Sultanate. We believe the answers to tomorrow’s energy challenges lie in the power of people’s ingenuity, and that together we can make the future today,” concludes Muna.