Oman Shipping Company – Ship Shape
The Oman Shipping Company was founded in 2003 as part of the Omani government’s vision to develop a national fleet that could cater to the country’s rapidly growing marine transportation needs across the hydrocarbon, petrochemical, mining and metallurgical industries. Oman’s premier shipping company does the country proud, but as Oman’s economy grows and changes, so must its shipping company.
Originally the company’s focus was on transporting domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) to international markets. However, as time went on the company evolved, expanding its fleet to include Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), Product Tankers, Chemical Tankers, LPG Carriers, Very Large Ore Carriers (VLOCs), Bulk Carriers, multi-purpose vessels and most recently, a container ship.
Oman Shipping Company now boasts a diverse fleet of 49 modern vessels, both owned and chartered-in, making it the national shipping transportation services provider of choice. The company’s growth strategy and business investments have been carefully executed to align with the strategic maritime transportation interests of the Sultanate’s rapidly industrialising economy. The company’s business investments and growth strategy have been closely aligned with the Sultanate’s strategic maritime transportation interests and rapidly industrialising economy.
Oman Shipping Company is more than a simple shipping logistics provider. It exists to recreate the proud maritime history Oman has as a seafaring nation, encouraging a new generation of Omanis to pursue a career on the waves.
“We’re a full-scale shipping company. We’re in all relevant sectors, crude oil, chemicals, refined oil, dry cargo, containers, we do all sectors relevant to the Oman economy,” explains Michael Jorgensen, CEO of the company. “The business is government-owned and on a growth trajectory that started in 2003. We’ve invested $4 billion in ships. Our growth is in the container and dry cargo sector and we’re part of an important transformation away from gas and oil to logistics. We have the vision to place ourselves as a leading logistics hub.”
As a closed joint-stock company, Oman Shipping Company is owned by the Governorate of the Sultanate of Oman through Asyad Group (Oman Global Logistics Group) (79.9%), Oman Oil Company (20%) and Oman Rail (0.01). The business is involved in a wide variety of shipping-related activities through its subsidiaries, Oman Ship Management Company, Oman Charter Company and Oman Container Lines Inc.
“Our unique selling point is we have all the cargos on our doorstep,” Jorgensen points out. “We’re full scale, we do everything in-house. That includes technical management, commercial management and financial management. We’re very international, we’ve ports of call in more than 100 different countries a year and we’re an Omani company with 87% local employees as well as 15 other nationalities.”
The shipping company has prospered partly to the strong relationships it has built as a trustworthy partner of some of the biggest international businesses.
“We have benefitted from long term contracts with all the leading industrial players including Shell, BP, and Mitsubishi,” Jorgensen says. “We have a good track record and operate to the highest standards with a young, modern fleet.”
At the same time, Oman Shipping Company has benefited from the many advantages their home country has to offer.
“Oman has all the benefits. It has a strategic location, it is well placed in the Middle East, it’s very close to India, and it’s close to Eastern Africa and right between Europe and Asia. So, the location will be used much to our advantage,” Jorgensen explains. “The Middle East is known to be a problem area but Oman is politically stable with a good outlook that gives us confidence when we go out and do long term contracts. We can be trusted.”
But while nobody can deny Oman Shipping Company is well established, they are currently undergoing a process of realignment as they trysail into territories.
“We are strong in oil and gas,” Jorgensen says, “but we’re gradually investing in dry cargo ships to support the mining industry.”
Entering these new markets involves a huge process of investment, in ships, hardware and human resources.
“We’re building network strength, and when you come from a small level you have to invest. It’s very much about skill sets,” Jorgensen points out. “We’re making investments in dry cargo. We’ve acquired some ships and in the container sector it’s all very new but we’re investing in IT, e-commerce, container ships, and branding. There’s a lot happening right now.”
When it comes to sourcing the necessary skillsets, Oman Shipping Company is an international business that believes it’s good to have a mix of nationalities and perspectives within the company, but at its heart, it is an Omani company and is committed to developing homegrown talent.
“We have the Omani Seafarers programme where we take candidates right from school and train them in our methods,” Jorgensen explains. “In the more commercially related functions the commercial expertise is not really dominant in Oman, so we’re training Omani’s to take these positions. We have a personal development plan to talk about strengths and weaknesses. We agree on training with staff, which is sponsored by the company every year. We have regular appraisals to discuss progress and what we can do more of. And there are benefits to working with our company. We are seen as a good employer in Oman because we’re a good training ground.”
All of this investment sees Oman Shipping well equipped to respond to the changing international markets and the rapidly progressing industry of Oman itself. Talking to Jorgensen it’s clear he’s excited about seeing Oman Shipping Company broaden its offering to better serve Oman’s widening business offering.
“We’ll have a more diversified portfolio, and growth that is relevant to the country,” he says. “So, if gas is available for exploration, we’ll do more transportation. If mining is growing, we’ll grow further into the dry cargo sector. All these things are important objectives for us. We are part of a bigger plan, as a government company we’re one of 15 companies including rail dry dock, so we’re part of that family and have a strong backing.”