Oman to review employing locals in oil sector

Reduced salaries for Omanis and financial compensation to companies being mulled to make it easier for employers to hire nationals

PDO has helped in creating 7,200 jobs for Omanis last year.
PDO has helped in creating 7,200 jobs for Omanis last year.

The Omani is revising its recently issued guidelines to make it easier for locals to get jobs in the Sultanate’s oil and gas sector.

A top official at Oman’s Ministry of Oil & Gas told the Oman Daily Observer that the government might amend those norms – which were issued to deter contractors from laying off Omani workers – to make it easier for employers to redeploy, rather than retrench, nationals likely to be made redundant by the ongoing downturn in the industry.

Salim bin Nasser al Aufi, Undersecretary at the ministry, said a high-level committee overseeing the implementation of the ‘Redeployment Strategy’ endorsed by the Council of Ministers last November, has revisited the blueprint to make it less burdensome financially for employers to redeploy Omani oilfield workers.

The revised guidelines, which are awaiting final signature by the Council of Ministers, make it possible for contractors to redeploy redundant or surplus oilfield workers against reasonable compensation payouts and even some salary reductions as well.

Outlining the changes proposed to the redeployment strategy at the Annual General Meeting of the Oman Society for Petroleum Services (OPAL) last week, Al Aufi said: "We accepted a reduction in the salary; we accepted a compensation to be given to them; we in fact redefined the compensation strategy completed. We have made it extremely easy for employers to redeploy. It hardly costs any money now for employers to redeploy."

Redeployment is the lynchpin of the government's efforts to stave off mass layoffs of Omani workers in the oilfield industry - currently one of the largest employers of nationals - which has been hit hard by the global oil price slump.

More than 2,100 employees threatened with retrenchment in the sector have been successfully redeployed elsewhere within the industry or in other economic sectors over the past three months.

While the principles underpinning the Redeployment Strategy remain unchanged, elements to do with compensation terms, salary cuts, allowances, and so on, have been somewhat relaxed to make it simpler for contractors saddled with surplus Omani staff to redeploy them in group companies within or outside the oil & gas sector.

Once endorsed by the Council of Ministers, the revised guidelines are expected to remove any grounds for contractors to dither on redeployment of redundant Omani staff, the official stressed.

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