CAPTIVE TO NONE

Oman 2018 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Tarik Al Junaidi, CEO of Oman Shipping Company, on sector-wide consolidation, giving back to the industry, and developing things in-house.

 Tarik Al Junaidi
BIOGRAPHY
Tarik Al Junaidi joined Oman Shipping Company in 2005. In 2010, he was promoted to Deputy CEO and in 2013 he assumed the role of Acting CEO, and in 2015 he was promoted CEO. Prior to joining OSC, he worked for HSBC and before then at Global Enterprise looking after sales and marketing. In 2013, he completed an Executive MBA in shipping, finance, and offshore from BI Management School in Norway and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. In 2004, he completed an MBA from The University of Western Australia. He also holds a BSc. in international business and marketing from Florida Atlantic University, US.

Are you looking to expand your client base locally or internationally?

For the moment, we will be focusing on the local market, specifically on Duqm. There are developments happening there, and we are keeping an eye on the refinery in particular because it will require sea transportation. This has not been discussed yet, but we would like to provide transportation for them. It is a huge development with the Port of Duqm and the surrounding industry and tourism activities. In general, we want to focus more on the export and import of Omani products. We are under the umbrella of Oman Global Logistics Group (OGLG) now, recently rebranded as Asyad. The group consists of 17 companies, mainly in logistics. Asyad has a wider strategy to make Oman one of the top 10 global logistics hubs by 2040.

What should be done to boost the transport and logistics sector in terms of regulations or PPPs?

Coordination is the most important factor. We need coordination for any strategy to work. We frequently see that different ministries have different agendas or priorities. If we do not get the right priorities up front, things will not change. We need to change regulations and laws to adapt to changing environments and situations over time. There is a great deal of energy and drive; however, if people do not sit down and agree to do things together, nothing will get done. For us, it is good to be under the Asyad umbrella now, because many companies were basically doing ad hoc things without a particular direction. They were all controlled by the Ministry of Finance in terms of shareholders, but the latter does not necessarily have the in-house expertise to develop the logistics hub concept. Therefore, I am really happy about this change and hope we will have better coordination now, which is the most important thing. The Ministry of Finance is also looking at different companies for sector-wide consolidation.

How are low crude oil prices and the slowdown in natural gas production impacting you?

Around 65% of our fleet is on long-term commitments, which means they are not exposed to the markets, which provides a solid foundation for us in terms of cash flow and so on. 35%, mainly VLCCs, are in the spot market. This combination is a good mix because when the market is high we can reap the benefits, and when it is low at least our steady cash flow supports us. Both 2015 and 2016 were amazing years, because when the price of oil went down, VLCC rates went up. We were earning good returns on chartering vessels. Now, although the price of oil is still low, the rates have gone down due to speculative investments and oversupply, particularly given that the world is cutting production. The rates have gone down, but we expect the situation to normalize.

What are you doing to meet the Omanization requirements?

One of the things we do well is train many seafarers. Since we started in 2003, we have trained over 90 Omani officers ranked between third officers and chief officer, and we still have quite a few cadets in the pipeline. We also provide students from the International Maritime College Oman (IMCO) with the sea experience and on-board training they require for their qualifications for free. Our main focus is to give back to the industry.

What are Oman Shipping Company's plans in the near future?

We will probably grow more in the refined petrochemicals segments rather than long-term chartering, but having our chartering desk. We already did this with our VLCC fleet at the beginning of 2017. We used to give the commercial management to a third party, but we took that in-house and developed it. We want to develop on the product and bulk cargo side. We also want to make sure we have captive cargo.