'Redeployment' policy to save Oman oil sector jobs
Expatriate workforce left out of 'safety net' as government's priority is to protect and create jobs for Omanis, official says
A strategy for protecting the jobs of Omani workers in the oil and gas sector is being implemented in the wake of declining oil prices, a senior official told the Times of Oman.
“All efforts are being made to ensure that people do not lose jobs. However, given the scale of reduction in oil prices, redundancies are inevitable,” said Musallam Al Mandhari, chief executive officer of the Oman Society for Petroleum Services (Opal).
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Al Mandhari said the issue of the termination of contracts is not a serious matter at present, though, realistically speaking, the situation will become increasingly difficult if oil prices drop to as low as $20 per barrel.
Al Mandhari said the second half of 2015 had been spent on formulating a blueprint strategy to address this issue and to assist in the redeployment of Omanis released from companies.
He pointed out that efforts to this end were initiated before oil prices had reached such low levels, and had helped Oman to handle redeployments.
Following a ministerial decision, a technical committee was set up and a strategy was made through collaboration between the Ministry of Oil and Gas, the Ministry of Manpower, and the General Federation of Oman Trade Union, Al Mandhari explained.
This strategy, aimed at creating a ‘safety net’ for Omanis in the field of oil and gas, is being implemented, and cases of affected employees are being dealt with, he explained.
When questioned whether the strategy also concerned expatriates working in oil and gas companies, the official replied, “No. Our main concern is Omanis.”
“Experienced foreign workers have the opportunity to get jobs in their home countries, but it is important to find jobs for Omanis within the country,” Opal’s CEO emphasised.
Commenting on how the strategy works, Al Mandhari said if a contractor working for an operator has been affected due to various reasons, such as the downgrading of certain services, scrapping of a project, or shutting down of a rig, then the contractor has to exercise due diligence to find jobs for Omanis within its other contracts.
Hence, the first level is redeployment within the work undertaken by the contractor, he added.
If the contractor cannot redeploy the released nationals, then it has to approach the operator, Al Mandhari noted.
Then the operator has to ensure that the contractor has exercised due diligence and is required to try to find jobs for those individuals among its other contractors, he said. Therefore, the second level is redeployment within the operator’s contractors, the official added.
Therefore, the second level is redeployment within the operator’s contractors, the official added.
If the operator fails to redeploy the Omanis, the case goes to the working committee, which will then decide whether the contractor and operator have performed their obligated due diligence, he added.
Al Mandhari said if it is confirmed that they have made maximum efforts, then the committee will attempt to address the issue by identifying where employees can be redeployed across the sector, what type of training they need, as well as how many workers can be trained and redeployed.
The committee will examine contracts across the oil and gas sector and then places these workers, if possible, he said, noting that if they cannot be redeployed, they will be released with compensation.
“This compensation will actually come from the original contractor, so again, this move aims to encourage the original contractor to not release people in the first place,” Opal’s CEO stated.