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Oman 2016 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alex Clark, CEO of Special Technical Services (STS), on the firm's role in the country, Omanization and ICV, and plans for the future.

Alex Clark
BIOGRAPHY
Alex Clark has over 25 years' experience in the oil and gas, petrochemical, heavy industrial, and mechanical engineering construction industries, with particular expertise in executive and general management. He is currently the CEO of Special Technical Services (STS), prior to which he was STS Group General Manager. He has a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Sydney and a Master’s in Engineering Management from the University of NSW.

What is STS's role in the energy sector in Oman?

STS provides services in three key areas: construction, fabrication, and maintenance. We primarily serve the upstream oil sector with companies such as PDO, BP, and Oxy. We also work in the downstream sector, primarily in refining and aluminum smelting. STS is an Oman-based regional contracting company. We have operations through our subsidiaries and joint ventures currently working in Algeria, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. In Oman our largest client is PDO. We are four years into a seven-year service contract for PDO, providing maintenance, construction, and engineering services to PDO's north Oman directorate. Through this particular contract, which employs around 5,000 people daily in the oil field, we have been able to achieve a number of goals in the ICV area, most importantly in the development of SMEs and LCCs. We work and partner with these companies on a day-to-day basis to assist them in developing their skills. The other key area of ICV has been developing Omani talent in areas of engineering and technical trades.

STS was awarded with an outstanding performance award from Oman Methanol Company. What have been the company's biggest achievements over the past two years?

There are two methanol plants in Oman, including Oman Methanol Company located in Sohar. In the last two years, we have executed both of their shutdowns, on time or early, within budget, and without HSE issues. The downstream sector is an expanding market, and the maintenance and upkeep of these facilities is becoming a growing area of our business.

What needs to be done in terms of forwarding Omanization and in-country value (ICV)?

There are two areas that need focus. All companies must genuinely take Omanization and ICV initiatives into account before awarding work. The emphasis should be on ICV instead of just price. This is one major step that the government can take. Some GCC countries have government training programs to develop people for the different sectors. Thus, in those places the government has more overall control as to the quality of the people in the labor market. Oman can focus on this area to improve Omanization.

What are your expansion plans for the future?

We are currently working on a five-year strategic plan. In 2003, STS employed 600 people, and today we have just under 7,500. We are continuing to grow. In terms of future expansion, we will continue our opportunity-focused approach, in and out of the GCC. We will identify opportunities regionally and look for partners that can help us execute our plans, as we have done in Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE. At the moment, we are looking at specific opportunities outside of Oman in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

How do you enforce environmental care?

We are ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 compliant. We have a certification and a management system in place and have so far been accredited in those key areas. We are also proud to be annual supporters of the Oman Environmental Society. There are also many potential business synergies with clean energy. GlassPoint can effectively produce steam without consuming any fossil fuels, which is a tremendous technology. PDO has a number of others on the way, and there is a wind energy project in southern Oman. There are many business opportunities for companies that wish to align themselves with green technology in the future, both in Oman and in the region.