PDO is the leading oil and gas exploration and production company in the Sultanate; it focuses on achieving excellence, growth and creating sustainable value both within and outside our industry. The company also contributes to the sustainability and development of social investment to benefit a large segment of society. The company has an excellent reputation for achieving the highest health levels, safety environment in concession areas, in its main offices and contributes to development of this area because of the utmost importance to its employees’ health and safety and the companies that contract with it. In this context, Health and Safety Magazine met Eng. Abdul Amir Bin Abdul Hussein Al Ajmi, External Affairs and Value Creation Director at PDO, to answer the magazine’s questions which added significance to us to learn important aspects in the official’s personality, who is aware of work value and its importance.
Interview was conducted by Bader bin Mahfoodh Al-Qasmi, Editor -in – Chief (General Supervisor)
The oil and gas industry is risky, what actions does the company take to ensure its employees’ and operations’ safety?
We started working in the oil and gas field in 1970 and then incorporated the concept of health, safety and the environment (HSE). Since employees’, assets’ and environment’s safety is our top priorities, we have been focusing on it since inception.
Safety comes first and our employees’ safety is our cornerstone. Our safety concepts have been developed by establishing staff rules and regulations prior to their arrival at work sites and departure time as well as environmental safety. Examples of this are: the safety roads of concession sites in oil fields, where air transport is provided to the employees, as well as provision of special buses for the interior, such as the states of Adam, Bahala and Salalah. We also provide contractors with buses to transport them to work sites.
The vehicles were also equipped with a surveillance system, which monitors and tracks their vehicles and mechanisms, helping to reduce road accidents and losses. The system monitors drivers’ behaviors and notifies stakeholders of any reckless and dangerous driving .The system is designed to assist transport managers and occupational safety and security managers in complying with road safety policies established by the oil and gas field supervisory authorities, through improving their service performance, reducing the faulty use of vehicles and buses, tracking their whereabouts, especially in remote areas, and keeping safety requirements in workplace by registering attendees for those inside and outside the site.
One of the golden rules that the company follows and believes in is the concern for their employees’ and contractors’ safety, so occupational health and safety policy is fully applied in the company. We also have a set of elements with visions and goals for employees’, assets’ and environment’s safety.
The company also has a section for environment, ,we have a great cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Climate affairs in this area and we also have proactive projects in the field of road safety, where we have achieved a world record in the encyclopedia “Guinness ” for installing the largest number of photovoltaic and solar-powered reflectors, where 43550 units of solar-powered “Cat’s Eyes” were installed along a 650-kilometre road south of the company’s concession area from Hemaa to Salalah, passing through Nimer, Marmol, Herwell and Thamrit.
In addition, the company’s traffic safety team recorded another milestone in 2018, so far, when driving a distance of 750 km without causing a fatal traffic reaction related to work, and this equals to go to Mars and back 7 times. We also have a team that always cares about oil fields equipment’s maintenance and we hope that emissions will stop definitively through gas burning in 2030 and we strive seriously for that.
Emphasizing our continued approach to environmental conservation, the company has developed a drilling process without needing to dig waste, which has had a positive impact on the environment. And there is periodic maintenance for the main oil pipeline.
Renewable energy is today’s dialogue, is there a role for the company in this regard in Oman?
We are in a renewed and changing era and without a doubt as many know that gas and oil are among the main sources of energy, but the interest in renewable energy increases at the level of the Sultanate and the world, therefore the company has a big role in this field and expects after the accession of the electricity sector to oil and gas according to the Royal Decree, our focus on renewable energy will be doubled and thus help to take care of it.
PDO is working on the renewable energy use by installing thousands of solar panels in car parks at its headquarters at Mina al Fahal to provide power to the main offices and pump the surplus to feed the national network outside the official working hours. The eco-friendly move will provide more than 3.1 million cubic meters of gas a year, enough to provide electricity to about 1,000 homes, and reduce CO2 emissions by about 6662 tons yearly, equivalent to 1,400 cars on the road or planting about 173 thousand trees.
The PDO approach is in line with environmental requirements and looking ahead in the search for alternative sources of energy, especially at a time of economic challenges. The project will contribute to the preservation of the environment, in addition to reducing harmful emissions and electrical consumption. It is one of the first projects in the Sultanate that harnesses solar energy of this size along with the project “Mara (Mirror) ” in Amal field, south of the company’s concession area, which is the largest in the region.
This project is the latest step taken by the company to access renewable energy sources, and we see that there is a lot of potential for harnessing solar energy in our operations and in the Sultanate in general. The project also provides an opportunity to develop Omani capabilities in the field of solar energy and to build a local supply chain in this growing area.
The company promotes renewable energy in the oil and gas sector while expanding its renewable energy journey in the concession area. The company uses solar energy in street lighting and water heating in Ras Al Hamra Development Project, and recently completed the first phase of the project “Mara (Mirror)”, the largest power plant in the world in terms of peak production, in collaboration with its partner “Glass Point Solar” in the field of Amal, South the concession area. The “Mara” project will harness sunlight instead of gas to generate the steam needed for thermal-boosting oil extraction activities, and has successfully produced the first gas boost for Amal West Oil field. The company also provides technical support to entities in the government and private sectors in the Sultanate.
“Mara” project will result in significant local added value, as well as the creation of hundreds of local jobs, most of which will come from future supply chain development and gas savings used elsewhere.
The construction activities of the project “Mirror” were carried out on time, with 1.9 million hours of work recorded without a time-consuming incident since the project began in 2015. The first four sets of greenhouses were successfully operated, and the facility became operational on a daily basis to transport steam to Amal oilfield. The total production capacity of the first four sets of greenhouses is 112 MW and will provide 660 tons of steam daily, which will culminate in significant gas savings.
Once the one-gig watt station is completed, it will consist of 36 sets of greenhouses built sequentially, allowing PDO to take advantage of the solar steam now and gradually increase production over time to meet the demand for steam in Amal field. The project is now progressing to the completion of eight sets of greenhouses during 2019.
Glass Point Solar Technology is designed specifically to harness the sunlight in the production of the steam needed for thermal-boosting oil reclamation processes, so that this process is easily integrated with current oil field operations. The natural gas that this process will provide can be directed to export or other uses of higher value, such as power generation or industrial development, to help diversify the country’s economy.
Unlike solar panels that generate electricity, Glass Point uses large mirrors to focus sunlight to boil oil fields’ water and convert them directly into steam, and is used to extract heavy oil to replace steam generated using natural gas. Glass Point relies on the position of mirrors and other components of the system within closed glass houses protected from the wind and sand common to distant desert oil fields such as Amal field. These greenhouses enhance the system’s efficiency and reduce costs compared to open solar power systems, ranging from reduced material consumption in general to automatic washing operations.
What is the role of the company in supporting the local value of the country?
The company seeks to the benefit from the oil and gas sector throughout the Sultanate, through its national objectives’ strategy, its commitment to promote local goods and services’ use, and to improve a national staff’s capacity and companies ensuring realization of long-term sustainable business’ benefits in the Sultanate. PDO started to support local added value in 2012 and was about 18% of the remaining expenses, and the most important goal of the company is to achieve 36% by 2022, but by 2017 we exceeded the required limit and reached 40% through the localization of local industries, training and targeting the creation of 50,000 jobs, since 2011 we have created job opportunities for large numbers of citizens including training coupled with recruitment, direct employment, rehabilitation, re-absorption, labor mobility, university scholarships and employment opportunities followed by local value projects, and we want to target 21,000 opportunities in different sectors.
What is the company’s role in supporting local communities in the concession areas?
Major community companies in the Sultanate’s oil concession areas are successful experiences in social responsibility because of the importance it represents for the advancement of development, growth and sustainability, thanks to companies’ establishment where concession areas’ citizens contribute as closed public shareholding companies, among them are the companies Alsahari (Deserts), Alhaditha(Modern), Ashawamkh (Glory) and Albirka (the Pond), where contracts were awarded in services, maintenance and drilling rigs fields for a number of years, enabling people of the region to benefit from contracts of exploration and oil supplies to develop effective local companies that contributed to achieve its goals. Another company affiliated with Occidental Oman, was established, with a total of 75% of the concession areas’ members.
To what extent does the company cooperate with higher education institutions in the country?
The company, in cooperation with the Unified Admissions Center, contributes to the financing of scholarships for concession areas’ children and offers 200 scholarships yearly to these regions’ beneficiaries, all through the unified acceptance and not associated with PDO’s employment, and organizes orientation courses for students on how to take advantage of the program and win full-time opportunities for higher education. Students must pass the foundation course to allow them to choose their specialty, where the scholarship is offered for a period of five years up to the level of the Bachelor’s Degree.
PDO also supports a five-year “Localization Program” within the scholarships offered to train 50 students from their concession area and then become teachers so that they can return and work in their city and village schools.
The company funded 72 scholarships for students of the areas of excellence in private colleges and universities within the Sultanate to study a number of disciplines within the scholarship program for the community members. The program has helped more than 1,300 citizens to attend university since 2004.
It also launched the “Iijad (Finding)” electronic platform for cooperation between the industrial, the academic and research sectors in the Sultanate in energy field under the umbrella of the Institute of Advanced Technologies, Integration of the Scientific Research Council, the Ministry of Oil and Gas, and PDO, where the platform aims to contribute towards energy research promotion and innovation, facilitating cooperation between the three institutions ’sectors to stimulate scientific research and energy innovation through the establishment of workshops, conferences and training to build national capacities in the field. The platform aims to encourage enterprises from the industrial sector to invest local value added to support energy research and innovation, and here comes the “find” platform to facilitate bridging this capacity and energy gap by opening up to an innovation culture. The industrial, academic and governmental institutions signatory number to the Protocol for scientific research and innovation in the energy sector is (40).