Dec. 9, 2021


Ahmed Said Al Marhoubi

Oman

Ahmed Said Al Marhoubi

CEO Oman India Fertiliser Company, SAOC (OMIFCO)

Oman's largest nitrogen-based agri-nutrient manufacturer, OMIFCO plays a vital role in the Sultanate in terms of diversifying its economy and developing local talent.

BIO

Ahmed Said Al Marhoubi is CEO of OMIFCO. Before becoming CEO, he was CFO of OMIFCO and has been a part of the senior management team at OMIFCO since 2012. He has more than 14 years of experience in strategy, finance, and accounts and risk management areas across different industries. Internationally, he has been a board member of the Arab Fertilizer Association (AFA) since 2016 and a member of the Agri-nutrients Committee of the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemical Industries (GPCA) since 2015. Al Marhoubi holds an MBA from the University of Bedfordshire, UK, and a Bachelor of Accounting from the College of Commerce and Economics of Sultan Qaboos University.


A year ago, OMIFCO completed its contract with the government of India. What have been some of the major developments at OMIFCO since then?

OMIFCO continues to play a vital role in the Sultanate of Oman's overarching goal of diversifying the economy, reducing food imports, and developing local talent. On the business front, after successfully executing the long-term offtake contract with the government of India, OMIFCO entered into international markets following the signing of agreements with internationally reputed companies with global reach. OMIFCO's products now reach markets including the Asian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America. OMIFCO is aligned with the government of Oman on various initiatives, including but not limited to its vaccination drive, the development of local talent, and community development.

What are the main challenges that Oman faces in increasing its market share as a fertilizer producer?

The availability of natural gas is critical for agri-nutrient production. The government of Oman has its priorities right in natural gas allocation and has extended extensive support to the agri-nutrient industry.

What trends do you see in the Omani agricultural market?

Oman's agricultural policy is centered around food security, especially since 2007-08, when global food prices rose sharply. Agriculture is and continues to be a major recipient of the government's increased initiatives in the sector, reducing imports. The result speaks for itself. Alpen Capital released a report stating that Oman was the most self-sufficient country in the GCC in 2019 regarding food production. I see this march toward self-reliance continuing in the future. We will witness more support for the agriculture sector from the government. Another trend I see is an expansion of cultivated areas and the usage of technology to improve yields. Take the case of wheat production. According to the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Water Resources for Agriculture, Oman's annual wheat production more than doubled to 2,226 tons in the 2019-2020 agricultural season from 962 tons harvested in the previous season. In addition, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework (the right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place) should continue to be widely adopted, with the goal of increasing production and farmer profitability while enhancing environmental protection and sustainability.

A significant amount of energy is used to manufacture fertilizers. How can various technologies help make the production stage greener, and are you in the process of adopting such technologies?

OMIFCO is constantly evaluating and investing in technologies that will reduce the overall emissions.

Where do you see the role of the fertilizers market in supporting the Oman Vision 2040?

Oman's Vision 2040 has set a target to generate 20% of the country's power from renewables by 2030 and almost 40% by 2040. OQ, wholly owned by the Sultanate of Oman and 50% stakeholder in OMIFCO, is actively looking to develop green hydrogen, green ammonia, green methanol, and green steel projects, as well as blue hydrogen and ammonia. OQ launched a 25-GW project in Oman focused on green ammonia exports in partnership with international partners InterContinental Energy and Kuwait-based EnerTech. The project announced in May this year will produce 9.9 million MT/year of green ammonia at total capacity.

What are your main objectives for the next 12 months and what challenges do you expect to face?

OMIFCO's primary objectives for the coming year are to: continue to focus on ensuring production of high-quality products; continue to support local agricultural needs; increase the global footprint of OMIFCO's products; continue with its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint; and continue to support Oman's economy and local communities as well as develop local talent.