Initiatives on the horizonMay 15, 2020
Sulaiman Al Hudhaili, managing director of Tebodin & Partner (T&P Oman), talks to The Energy Year about how the engineering sector has changed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and how the company has adjusted its operations in response to current conditions. Tebodin & Partner is a joint venture with leading industrial services provider Bilfinger and provides engineering and consultancy for industrial projects around the world.
How has the engineering sector changed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic?
The Covid-19 pandemic and the simultaneous reduction in the oil price have led to significant operational disruptions. For example, we have seen a reduction in tenders in some areas on the one hand, but also an increased interest in digitalisation on the other hand.
Is there room for companies like yours to accommodate more price reductions?
Moving forward, dealing with the current situation will be a collaborative effort. In the upcoming weeks, we will be developing smart solutions that fit the requirements and needs of our customers. It is a dual shock and a new experience, Covid-19 plus the oil price slump. However, we are confident that together with our customers we will be able to overcome this hurdle.
We have to be vigilant and adapt to challenges that come our way. Part of Muscat is on complete lockdown and at least 25% of T&P Oman’s workforce lives in these areas, so we had to enable our employees to work from home where possible. To be compliant with regulations, we came up with two shift cycles in the office to reduce staff density. In addition, we have implemented vigorous procedures to sanitise the office. At the moment, at least 40% of our staff work from home. We have to change the way we work to maintain our excellent relationship with our customers and to honour our commitments.
Has your contract with OQ for engineering been affected?
It has been affected, as it is not picking up at the speed we expected. Understandably, the decision-making process on the customer side also takes time. However, I am hopeful that the lockdown will end soon and that we will pick up our pace by the end of June, which is normally a quiet season.
Will companies with a higher level of digitalisation emerge from the crisis stronger?
At T&P Oman, many of our procedures were already online, and we have now also developed our in-house tools further, such as the online document check due to travel restrictions. Within two weeks, we have made several changes to our online procedures to further enhance them. With regards to further digitalised solutions, our joint venture with Bilfinger allows us to present futuristic solutions to our clients for working remotely, which we have already successfully introduced in Europe. For instance, smart glasses allow engineers to work remotely through artificial intelligence and monitor and control plants. These initiatives are on the horizon to help support Omani infrastructure in overcoming this crisis.
Is there an opportunity for Oman to be a facilitator between the Western world and China with regard to the production of certain types of tools?
It is an opportunity and challenge at the same time, but I would rather focus on the opportunity side. Logistics-wise, we have a great relationship with China. However, there was some uncertainty until the end of March, when work resumed in China. Oman also has strategic ports which can link the East and the West and add value, such as with repackaging. They can also accommodate the fifth-generation vessels.
Do you expect more action from the government to raise revenue?
I think the government is supporting many interesting and essential initiatives to overcome this pandemic. At the same time, companies recognise opportunities that arise from the crisis. Together, we have to continue to innovate and find new solutions.
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