Zahar Al Busaidi has been the CEO of Special Oilfield Services (SOS) company since January 2022.
His career spans over 21 years in the Oil & Gas industry in diverse roles and in different countries.
Zahar holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Louisiana State University and an MBA from Vienna University of Economics and Business.
Your journey in the Oil and Gas industry has been quite remarkable, with diverse experiences and leadership roles. As the CEO of Special Oilfield Services, you are now at the helm of the organization. What key leadership principles or strategies do you believe are essential for leading a successful company in the Oil and Gas sector, especially considering the dynamic and evolving nature of the industry?
Zahar Al Busaidi: I believe that any successful organization must begin with competent, qualified, and motivated employees. This forms the core foundation of a thriving organization. Before seeking external business opportunities for growth, one must first look inward to assess the caliber of their personnel. It is imperative not only to train and motivate employees but to do so continuously. Regular training and sustained motivation are crucial. In my view, it serves as the engine for growth. By having the right people and taking care of their needs, an organization can maintain a strong footing.
I believe that any successful organization must begin with competent, qualified, and motivated employees.Zahar Al Busaidi
The second step involves the organization’s systems. An organization should be system-driven rather than individual-driven. Leaders come and go, but a robust and functioning system ensures sustainability and growth. This brings us to the aspect of corporate governance. A successful organization should have well-established functional sections, such as human resources, supply chain, health and safety, and contracts and commercials which work closely together to support the whole organization. When these sections are fully functional, executives and management can really focus on driving growth and expanding the business. These two elements are vital prerequisites to consider before contemplating the expansion of the organization.
With these foundations in place, a leader can dedicate his time and effort to building a business network and gain a holistic understanding of the market including the macroeconomics of the country, market dynamics, and market drivers including oil prices and costs. This will enable the development of a well-informed growth strategy in collaboration with the team. These, in my opinion, are the essential elements for building a robust organization capable of sustaining itself and pursuing growth and business opportunities.
SOS is recognized for its industry expertise and capability to provide high-quality products and services. Could you please review some recent projects or innovations that showcase SOS’s expertise and its ability to provide value to its clients in the energy sector?
Zahar Al Busaidi: Special Oilfield Services has been operating for almost 40 years in Oman, so we have developed a diverse portfolio and have added a new technology division in the last few years focusing solely on introducing cutting-edge technology to Oman in the energy sector. One of the innovations that we are currently working on with our partners is to introduce niche carbon capture technology in Oman. This will help support the country’s net zero goal by 2050. We are fully conscious of this goal. Hence, we have placed a special emphasis on carbon capture, green hydrogen, and renewables.
The niche technology is designed to capture carbon dioxide emission (CO2) and convert it to fuel. Remarkably, this technology is mobile and has already undergone different trials in locations outside Oman. We have engaged in discussions with various clients and stakeholders in the country about deploying this technology and are optimistic that in the coming years, we can deploy this technology to assist the country in realizing its net-zero objective.
One of the innovations that we are currently working on with our partners is to introduce niche carbon capture technology in Oman.Zahar Al Busaidi
Another notable initiative relates to green hydrogen. We are well aware of the country’s significant aspirations in this regard, and we acknowledge that several major projects are already underway, with more in the pipeline. To support the hydrogen industry, we have partnered with an international company that provides technology, technical expertise, and support. We will be actively participating in the Hydrogen Oman exhibition scheduled for December, where we will showcase some of these cutting-edge technologies. These innovations represent our commitment to firmly position SOS in the green energy industry and help support the country’s net zero goal.
When it comes to the conventional oil & gas industry, we have deployed different technologies upstream that optimize operating time, enhance safety, and reduce operating costs.
The company has gone through significant changes, such as the transition from a Joint Venture between MHD and AMPS to becoming a part of TAQA as of December 2022. How did SOS align its operations and strategies to leverage the strengths and synergies of being part of a larger energy conglomerate?
Zahar Al Busaidi: As announced in the media a few months ago, TAQA acquired Al Mansoori and with that TAQA also acquired 100% shares of Al Mansoori in SOS and became a shareholder along with MHD. TAQA possessed a substantial presence in the Middle East, North Africa, and some parts of Asia. It was evident that SOS could leverage this footprint, expertise, diverse portfolio, and technological capabilities to align and set up the stage for growth and explore new markets in Oman that we had never ventured into before.
With the new shareholders onboard, we came together and developed a new strategy for SOS that will enable internal alignment and sustainable business growth for the near and long run taking advantage of the newfound partnership.
The rebranding to help for a stronger market positioning reflects our will for stronger business growth.Zahar Al Busaidi
The energy sector is constantly evolving, and SOS’s transition to TAQA provides opportunities for growth and innovation. May you review the strategies that SOS has in place to stay agile and responsive to industry changes?
Zahar Al Busaidi: It has been a remarkable and transformational journey that began almost two years ago, and is still ongoing, to build a system-driven organization with functional support functions that can support sustainable growth with a special focus on corporate governance and work ethics.
There was a major investment in human capital to bring experienced talents to SOS to help with the journey ahead and deliver a step change in performance across our organization that will reflect positively on our businesses.
We have also undertaken a rebranding exercise over one year ago. We recognized the need to update and upgrade our image, as our previous logo had been in use for over three decades and had become outdated and irrelevant. The rebranding to help for a stronger market positioning reflects our will for stronger business growth.
Additionally, to have an agile and lean working environment, we decided to have our own corporate office all together on one floor. SOS used to occupy two floors, which has not been ideal for organizational harmony and business workflow for operations. We have recently moved to a single-floor office space spanning 1600 square meters to bring all divisions closer together. This physical proximity will align with our business processes, ensuring a smoother and leaner operation. It will also enable our teams to focus more on business-related activities and alleviate many of the challenges we used to face.
These are some of the strategies we have implemented. Additionally, we are concentrating on identifying high-value opportunities and introducing new services to ensure our readiness for growth. We anticipate significant growth in the energy sector in the coming years, driven by Oman’s ambitious plans to not only sustain but increase production while also embracing decarbonization. We hope that we will be well-positioned to capitalize on these growth opportunities in the next few years.
Our focus is to expand our footprint within Oman first, capitalizing on our existing strengths and experience hereZahar Al Busaidi
The company has a rich history and strong foundations. In your opinion, what are the key growth areas and opportunities you see for SOS in the oilfield services industry,
Zahar Al Busaidi: In the oilfield services sector, we have witnessed a notable upswing in opportunities and activities this year onward reflecting improved economic conditions with the increase of oil prices. We understand that the country has ambitious plans to enhance its production in the next few years, and this presents ample opportunities for us to excel. We intend to leverage our strength in our core services to support our clients with their goals, in collaboration with our partners.
We are actively pursuing the expansion of our organization by diversifying our product lines and incorporating niche technology. We have established a dedicated department specializing in new technology with the support of our international partners who support us on technical and technological matters. Notably, we have observed a growing trend among our clients in the adoption of these new technologies, particularly in the context of enhancing oil production. These areas will remain our primary focus moving forward.
In addition to the oil and gas sector, we recognize the significant potential of the renewable energy and green hydrogen industry in Oman. Consequently, we are in the process of formulating a new strategy for SOS to position ourselves for this industry in the future.
Lastly, do you have any plans for expanding beyond Oman to other GCC regions like Saudi Arabia?
Zahar Al Busaidi: At present, the Omani market offers a robust environment for our operations. Our focus is to expand our footprint within Oman first, capitalizing on our existing strengths and experience here. If opportunities arise for expansion beyond our borders in the future, we will certainly explore them.