RAPID REPAIR

Oman 2015 | DUQM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sheikh Khalil Ahmed Al Salmi, Deputy CEO of the Oman Drydock Company, on the company's activities in the maritime sector and the future shape of the dry dock business.

Sheikh Khalil Ahmed Al Salmi
BIOGRAPHY
Sheikh Khalil Ahmed Al Salmi is the Deputy CEO of Oman Drydock Company, one of the biggest ship repair yards in the Middle East. He spent several years of his life working in the oil and gas sectors. He also took different leading positions in marketing, human resources, and administration. He succeeded in building many relationships locally and internationally. His great experience and exceptional management abilities enabled him to lead a key international company that is considered by the Sultanate as a valuable economic resource and alternative to support the national income of Oman.

What is the importance of the partnership between the Oman Drydock Company and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company of Korea?

Oman is known for its heritage of sailors, shipbuilders, and traders. To build on that heritage, the dry dock idea came about, but this is a new technology and a new business. We thought about doing it, but we knew we needed a helping hand on the technology side to be competitive. Consequently, we thought about partnering with the right company in order to get the job done. However, this is our project; therefore, the government continues to have a 100% interest in it. We looked around, and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company, as one of the top three in the world in shipbuilding, represented the best option. It builds, and we repair, so the pieces of the puzzle came together. That is how the idea came about. It is not a traditional partnership, but the Korean firm helps operate the shipyard for us and, in the early stages, it helped design the shipyard with its more than 30 years worth of expertise in the sector.

How would you rate your performance in 2013?

Our performance has been excellent. If you look back, Oman Drydock really started in 2011 on the soft operations side. Since then, we have worked on over 260 ships. We have repaired LNG, VLCC, and container bulk carriers, all the way from the largest ships to the smallest, and even in different business lines. Although the world economy has emerged from the financial crisis, the shipping crisis is ongoing to an extent. Also, shipping is all about reputation by brand. We are a new brand and we are trying to make a name for ourselves. Also, we are the only company that is working and operating in Duqm as an industrial company. That by itself is a challenge.

How does Oman Drydock look to stand out from its competitors in the GCC area?

In the GCC, we don't look at each other as competitors. We see ourselves as completing each other. One of the reasons we wanted to establish a dry dock in Oman was because of the numbers. More than 30% of the oil exported around the world is sourced from this region. More than 60% of the LNG exports to the rest of the world come out of this region. Oman knows about oil products, from oil to gasoline, and we have six of the largest refineries in this region. As well, Oman Drydock has a number of advantages. First, we are located outside the Strait of Hormuz, in deeper sea and along the main trading lines. We are almost in the heart of the world between East and West when it comes to maritime trading lines. We are close to India and Africa, and today Africa is moving from a developing to an emerging market. We are also close to the Far East and to Europe. Furthermore, Oman Drydock has the latest in technology. We have the largest shipyard space-wise, and we have the two largest dry docks.

Do you have any plans to expand your facility?

If we talk about our operation, it has been set up in three stages: the first stage is ship repair. The second is offshore and industrial work. The final stage is shipbuilding. We have ship repair facilities and we were supposed to start fabrication in 2015-2016, but we are bringing it forward. As of 2014, we have already started preparing to do jackup rigs, offshore business, and industrial work. We wanted to take advantage of the opportunities because, right now, there is more business there than in ship repair. We will leave shipbuilding to time and economics, and then we will study it and embark on it if the numbers speak loudly.