WELL SPREAD

Oman 2015 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mulham Al Jarf, Deputy CEO of Oman Oil Company, on in-country value (ICV) development, and progress on the Duqm Refinery.

Mulham Al Jarf
BIOGRAPHY
Prior to joining Oman Oil Company as Deputy CEO in 2004, Mulham was Legal Officer at Oman Gas Company SAOC and Legal Researcher at the Ministry of Oil and Gas from 1999 to 2001. In 1994, he started his career in the telecommunications sector as a Legal Researcher and Business Planning Officer with the General Telecommunications Company, now called Omantel. Mulham contributes to the business community as the Chairman of Sohar Aluminum Company LLC, Salalah Methanol Company LLC, Takatuf Oman LLC, and OXEA S.à.r.l. He is the Vice-Chairman of Oman Oil Marketing Company SAOG as well as a Director of Duqm Refinery and Petrochemical Industries Company LLC, Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company SAOC, Oman Arab Bank SAOC, and Hungarian Oil and Gas Public Limited (MOL PLC). Mulham holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Marymount University, US and a postgraduate Diploma in Law from The College of Law, UK in 1998. He is also a Barrister-at-Law of the Bar of England and Wales and a member of The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, UK.

How significant is in-country value (ICV) for the company?

From its inception, Oman Oil Company has always been there to enhance shareholder value. I believe that actions speak louder than words. If you look at what we have achieved to date, we contribute about 4% to GDP within our portfolio in Oman. Today that consists, globally and internationally, of about 40+ existing investments, plus new developments in about 15 countries. The current headcount locally is just over 8,000. With the existing plans in place, we will probably double that by 2023. That is direct employment. What we are looking at now is raising the bar further by enhancing ICV. We have a human capital arm called Takatuf Oman, which, since 2013, has been corporatized into a separate entity. Our idea is to embed ICV in the way we conduct business, not as an afterthought. It is part of our core business, keeping in mind that we only invest in globally profitable, competitive and sustainable businesses, not social programs. The intention here is going beyond investment. It has to be something that adds value and integrates existing investments with new ones.

What are the main projects you are developing in Duqm?

Duqm involves several projects. The Duqm Refinery of course is the centerpiece of the development, and it will have a capacity of 230,000 barrels per day (bbl/d). As a result of that, we will also be putting in place a Centralized Utility Company that will provide certain services, such as industrial gases, power, waste management, and cooling water on an integrated basis for new developments. With that, we are also constructing pipelines to supply oil and gas. The oil pipeline will actually go to another investment we are putting together. That will potentially be one of the largest crude oil terminals in the world, about 70 kilometers from Duqm. That terminal will supply the Duqm Refinery using a smaller pipeline, but also be available for crude imports, as well as either for commercial storage or strategic storage. In 2013, we acquired a chemical company based in Germany with operations in the US called OXEA. The next large investment by OXEA will be in Duqm, and we are just putting together the plans for that. We recently launched a master plan for the petrochemicals business, which is scheduled to be ready by the end of 2013. That will take the products coming out of the refinery and add value to the existing molecules we produce in Oman.

Can you talk about your investments in the mining sector?

In mining, I would say we are still in the infancy stages. We have a mining investment in Canada called Black Rock Metals, which is an iron ore and titanium resource mine in Saguenay; 7,000 people are currently living there. It is nearby to an aluminum smelter owned by one of our partners. We are also studying other potential mining opportunities in Oman and elsewhere.

Can you discuss your global presence and your expansion programs?

Right now we are focusing on leveraging and optimizing our existing holdings. We have investments operating in over 15 countries. Any new investments will need to have a direct link back into Oman. There is a focus currently on investing in Africa, specifically Tanzania, where we have opened an office. That office is looking into a few potential investments. Given Africa's potential and its proximity to Oman, as well as historical ties, that is why we are focusing there.

What is the future of the oil and gas industry in Oman?

Most of the resources are maturing, so we will have to be more creative and think outside the box on how to maximize or stabilize the current production. Recently I saw there are 40,000 potential jobs in the oil and gas sector going forward. The positive aspect is that the more complex it becomes, the more jobs you need to generate. The days of easy oil are over and it is time to think a bit more aggressively on how to optimize production.