POWERS UP

Oman 2018 | CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Marco G. Malpiedi, Managing Director Oman of Atkins, on the firm's portfolio, entrance into the power segment, and the highly qualified Omani workforce.

Marco G. Malpiedi
BIOGRAPHY
Marco G. Malpiedi has been in charge of Atkins’ operations in Oman since 2013, delivering services for the property and buildings, transport and infrastructure, energy, and advisory sectors. His extensive experience in the environment is gained from over 35 years in the consultancy industry, including 10 years in Oman. His broad business, organizational management, and leadership qualifications have been developed and refined primarily through growing and directing multi-disciplinary offices in the Middle East, and also Northern and Central Europe and East Africa. Most recently following other honors over his career, in acknowledging his achievements in Oman, he received the 2016 Construction Week Executive of the Year award.

What is Atkins' strategy in the Middle East, and what is the importance of Oman in Atkins' portfolio?

Historically, Atkins in Oman has concentrated on the property sector; this includes all buildings works and related infrastructure. However, we have seen, over the last year, the power and energy sector becoming a more robust market for Atkins along with also the client advisory services niche. Utilizing our broad Atkins Group capabilities in the power segment, we targeted and secured some work with the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP)—we managed to win the Power 2021 and 2022 projects. We are now looking to pursue some water-related projects, also for OPWP, using a combination of our group's specialist skills and leveraging our long-established local resource base. Also in our plans is to extend our energy services to cover oil and gas. To date, Atkins has to not been heavily involved in the Oman oil and gas sector. Although we have done work for BP and PDO, it has focused on the construction side. With regards to the client advisory services, we have a part of our business called Acuity, and this delivers a number of consultancy services. This, together with the engineering base of Atkins, aims to deliver our clients seamless, results-driven engineering advisory solutions for complex development projects, namely greater and more complete value added solutions. Using this new service unit, we won a key project for the Supreme Council for Planning in the continuing five-year development cycle called the Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS). Our role will be tying together studies carried out by four regional spatial strategy consultants covering the 11 governorates.

How will the Power 2021 and 2022 projects help to push forward the development of the Sultanate?

Oman requires expansion of its main power system to meet 2021 and possibly 2022 forecast demands. These projects look at all aspects related to power in Oman, including the forecasted demand requirements, available capacity, and expiring plants to determine how available infrastructure will function in five years' time and what and where new infrastructure is needed. OPWP does not construct nor operate any of Oman's power plants, but rather buys power from private-sector entities in marked difference to the region, where the government owns 15%, 25%, or 50% of these facilities. Power 2021 and 2022 are strategic projects and also, because they include technical elements, are of particular interest to us. Although we have previously not worked much in power projects in Oman, we are excited about the potential to grow considering the limited, but qualified, competition and knowing that energy is something that Oman needs. Power supply is an absolute must and we are pleased to provide related services as part of our portfolio.

What are Atkins' main goals and objectives?

One of our key goals is to make sure that people appreciate the in-country value Atkins is achieving with its tailored Omanization program. We now have an ever-evolving Omani skill base on par with international standards. The problem is that clients feel they need to look offshore for architectural services as they feel local companies are not comparable to companies outside of Oman. Meanwhile, our staff work on projects in other countries, for international clients. At present, some of our Omani staff are working on projects in East Africa, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Somehow, we have to show Oman clients that Omanis are an asset, and we are an international company delivering international-standard services. From a service scope perspective, we will aim to further grow our advisory, power, and water projects, as well as transport and infrastructure works while still developing our property services. Rather than having two or three segments to build our business on, we want to have four or five established lines giving our business in Oman stability and agility.