Musallam AL MANDHARI, CEO of OPAL

We are beginning to see the impact of the digital technologies in the oil and gas industry and these are transformational in nature.

Musallam AL MANDHARI CEO OPAL

The digital impact in Oman

December 17, 2018

Musallam Al Mandhari, CEO of Oman Society for Petroleum Services (OPAL), talks to TOGY about the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how to create a workforce ready to adapt, as well as the role of new technologies in upskilling. With more than 400 members, OPAL is the industry forum society for Oman’s petroleum industry.

• On the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Oman: “We are beginning to see the impact of the digital technologies in the oil and gas industry and these are transformational in nature. PDO alone has 23 digitisation projects and these are making a big difference in the way data is managed and its impact on decision making, be it in exploration, seismic interpretation techniques, maintenance or safety.”

• On future plans: “We are planning a major overhaul that will help in taking us to the next level in providing sustainable and focused value-added services to our members while at the same time ensuring that we meet national objectives, specifically in ensuring that we provide a skilled workforce that will serve the nation as a whole.”

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What are the key implications the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have for oil and gas activities in the short to medium term?
In the short term, we are working to identify what to expect and where will it impact us most. A study is underway to identify in more detail where to concentrate most and specifically on resource optimisation and the re- or upskilling of our workforce.
We are, however, beginning to see the impact of the digital technologies in the oil and gas industry and these are transformational in nature. PDO alone has 23 digitisation projects and these are making a big difference in the way data is managed and its impact on decision making, be it in exploration, seismic interpretation techniques, maintenance or safety.
The challenge lies in how quickly we can upgrade our systems and the technological infrastructure to meet the new generational changes happening to maximise production and decrease costs.

What measures can be taken to accelerate the training and development of the Omani workforce to make it more adaptable to the coming disruptive effects of these changes?
We recognise the misalignment between skills required for the jobs of the future and what our colleges and universities churn out, and this is a challenge that OPAL is actively working on within the context of the Oman Energy Forum Master Plan 2040 recommendations.
Work is underway in our efforts for the creation and enhancement of National Occupational Standards that reflect skillsets required for the future. Similar work is happening in improving accreditation and standards for vocational education, creating transferable and fully accredited pathways for technical skills that can evolve to better upskill and re-skill the Omani workforce.

 

What is the role of new technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality (VR and AR) in the upskilling of the local workforce?
In a small way, OPAL has been instrumental in the introduction of advanced virtual reality technology to assist with the training of new generations of welders in Oman at the Seeb Vocational College. The welding VR equipment will help students learn quicker, and in a cost-effective manner. We plan to equip all other vocational colleges with similar equipment that will be a precursor to the introduction of more advanced VR and AR technologies in our technical colleges.

What is the strategic role of ICV to lock in gains from efficiencies generated through the previous price downturn?
It’s been five years in the making and we have learned a lot and come a long way during this relatively short time in taking forward the ICV agenda and the programmes that were envisaged in 2012 when it was kicked off. The commitment of the Ministry of Oil and Gas and the main oil producers has been key, with the setting up of the Project Management Office in the Ministry of Oil and Gas, which has proven instrumental in ensuring that the programme works in line with the set goals and targets.
These have been met and exceeded and this speaks volumes as to this commitment to the programme’s success. This is fast becoming business as usual and we are confident that in the coming years we will see enhancements to the programmes to take it to the next level.

What key challenges and opportunities faced by OPAL in streamlining standards and sharing best practices across the oil and gas industry?
OPAL has been lucky to obtain unwavering support and commitment from all its stakeholders, government and members alike, in the setting of and ensuring compliance with standards that we have put together with subject matter experts coming from all folds within the industry.
Five standards have been signed off on in the areas of road safety, heat stress index, camps standards and the more recent DROPS [Dropped Objects Prevention Scheme] and HSE incident sharing and statistics standards.
This proves that as a society we can build on the strengths of our members in enabling the creation of common standards that can then be applicable across the industry and in the process save everyone a lot of effort and optimise on the economies of scale that members can command. More standards are in the making for the coming years.

What are OPAL’s main objectives for 2019, and its medium- and long-term strategies?
In the short and medium term 2019 will see OPAL consolidating gains of the last five years and ensuring that we continue in the optimisation of the standards and utilising the joint strength of our members to prepare for the forthcoming challenges that the future brings us.
We are planning a major overhaul that will help in taking us to the next level in providing sustainable and focused value-added services to our members while at the same time ensuring that we meet national objectives, specifically in ensuring that we provide a skilled workforce that will serve the nation as a whole.

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