Oman’s top oil and gas official on the market’s futureOctober 16, 2018
H.E. Salim bin Nasser Al Aufi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Oil and Gas, talks to TOGY about the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on Oman’s energy industry and the country’s long-term goals for its resources. The Ministry of Oil and Gas is responsible for the development and implementation of government policy concerning the exploitation of oil and gas resources in Oman.
• On the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “In the long term, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be a disruptive technology for the well-established way of working, with many positive gains but some potential negative consequences. It will mean much more data gathering, much faster analysis and focused troubleshooting, more automation of currently manual tasks and more specialised skills that don’t exist today.”
• On locking in efficiency gains: “It is not policies or initiatives needed, but discipline to continuously be effective and efficient. Effective in ensuring that only value-added processes and activities are executed, and efficient in ensuring those effective processes are executed in the most optimised way.”
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What main implications will the Fourth Industrial Revolution have for oil and gas activities in the short to medium term?
In the short term, it will be sniffing through the many offerings the market and service providers will be presenting to the industry, and formulating better appreciation of the positive and negative consequences of adopting or declining such offerings. It will be a serious challenge of not wanting to be the pilot project while at the same time not wanting to lose out on any fast gains.
In the long term, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be a disruptive technology for the well-established way of working, with many positive gains but some potential negative consequences. It will mean much more data gathering, much faster analysis and focused troubleshooting, more automation of currently manual tasks and more specialised skills that don’t exist today.
There will be a need for upskilling and retraining of the existing workforce, more interaction with education and training institutes to provide the skills of the future, elimination of existing jobs and potentially creation of new ones. The challenge for all of us will be in creating that balance between preparing for the future that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will create while at the same time delivering the business of today.
How can the country accelerate the training and development of the Omani workforce to become more adaptable to upcoming labour and operational changes brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Again, I don’t believe acceleration is the challenge; it is more about giving the industry the skills and quality it demands to be successful. To do that, there is a role for the industry to define the needed skills and quality and a role for the education system and training institutes to adopt and deliver.
The recent introduction of the Competency Framework by the Ministry of Manpower with accreditation is a step in the right direction, but it needs to cover all professional skills and be applied to all workforces in the country.
We can’t have some skills with defined competency and accreditation and others without this, and we can’t have part of the workforce accredited while part is not. This will create distortion and unfair practices that will derail the entire process. What needs to be accelerated is the accreditation coverage at the skills and workforce level.
What types of policies and initiatives should be taken to lock in efficiencies gained throughout the downturn?
It is not policies or initiatives needed, but discipline to continuously be effective and efficient. Effective in ensuring that only value-added processes and activities are executed, and efficient in ensuring those effective processes are executed in the most optimised way.
What are the Ministry of Oil and Gas’ main objectives for 2019 and its longer-term strategy within the government’s mandate?
The Ministry of Oil and Gas’ primary objective is to regulate the oil and gas industry to ensure effective and efficient exploitation of the country’s hydrocarbon resources. The long-term objective for oil is to maintain a stable plateau, award all potential open blocks and optimise the development cost per barrel. For the gas, we need to meet the short- and long-term demand in the country while still satisfying our international contractual obligations.
Many industries depend on gas availability, and many jobs can be created from such industries. Hence it is our obligation to ensure all potential gas resources are exploited and developed to meet such demands and create employment opportunities for the Omani workforce.
It is also the ministry’s role to ensure that best practices are shared between operators and service providers, maximise the in-country value and assist existing and new operators/service providers in delivering their plans as efficiently as possible.
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