FORGING AHEAD

Oman 2020 | OIL & GAS | INTERVIEW

Despite Oman's fuel market slowing down, OOMCO increased its sales volume of lubricants by 36% in 2019 and is constructing a greenfield bunker terminal at the Port of Duqm. The company has transformed while growing its expertise in Marketing and Digital.

David Kalife
BIOGRAPHY

David Kalife was appointed CEO of OOMCO in 2017. An industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience, Kalife has earned a reputation for driving innovation, talent management, and successfully managing international subsidiaries in complex environments. His extensive professional background includes over 15 years of experience in leadership roles. He graduated from Neoma Business School and holds an MBA from INSEAD, where he subsequently acted as an interviewer.

How did the retail and marine fuel market develop in 2019, and what main trends are you focusing on in 2020?
For the past two years, the fuel market in Oman has witnessed a slowdown, impacting all players, though we have endured, thanks to our strategy launched three years ago while focusing on four pillars. Our first pillar is global expansion with the exploration of opportunities beyond Oman's borders: we have since entered the markets of Saudi Arabia and Tanzania. Our second pillar is to increase our fuel market share in Oman, which we have continuously done through introducing unique integrated service hubs and transforming the fuel industry with our innovative products and services. Regarding lubricants in Oman, we have increased our sales volume by 36% in 2019 on a decreasing lubricants market, thus evidencing our growth strategy. Given the company's strategic interest in the ships bunker fuel business, OOMCO is now constructing a greenfield bunker terminal in the Port of Duqm. This terminal will consist of 30,000m³ capacity tankage, pipelines, pump sets, valves, electrical and mechanical equipment. The terminal will be fully commissioned by the end of 1Q2020: the project timing is broadly aligned with the development and construction of the Duqm Refinery for fuel supply and associated shipping, which will further grow our customer base.

What is your strategy to grow the commercial segment of the fuel industry?
In B2B, we go beyond the default commodity sales concept: we provide our strategic partners with more and better solutions. We focus on delivery efficiency, using advanced systems that are fast, secure, and transparent, and target problem-free experiences for our customers. Our customers are at the core of our operations; that is why we keep introducing innovative solutions like mobile fuel stations, commercial applications, and e-Fill. Aviation is another major source of fuel consumption beyond COVID-19 impacting the global economy and industry.

What role will technology play in shifting the industry to further innovation and sustainability?
We are working on new concepts of service stations. OOMCO is already ahead in adopting sustainability practices as the first fuel marketing company to go eco-friendly in the Sultanate. We have introduced this first green service station at Rusayl, which comprises of a range of unique eco-friendly features including solar panels, LED lights, a vapor recovery system (VRS), and an electric vehicle (EV) charger. Meanwhile, our chain of 110 Ahlain convenience stores offers biodegradable bags instead of plastic ones. In 2021, we will continue to expand our smart fueling offering, expanding ways of digital access to our customers. We launched our OOMCO World app, which brings together products and services offered in our service stations into one rewarding and convenient experience for all customers. We believe cashless is the way to go, and our customers will be able recharge our new “Basma Plus" smart fuel card online and enjoy one of the fastest payment experiences.

How should oil marketing companies position themselves with shaping the industry of the future?
In order to become customer-centric, the first step is to embrace the term “service station" instead of “gas station" or “filling station." The key is to offer a real experience through service hubs to customers so that they will come back and stay longer: our service stations are becoming “destinations." In this sense, we are introducing a new concept, the MEGA service station, where people come not just for fuel, but to find entertainment, a hair salon, a car services workshop, and so on, within a 10,000-sqm service station. The goal is to get passengers outside the cars. We believe in growing the non-fuel retail through our shops, food, and services
activities.