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OMAN - Energy & Mining

Mazin Al Lamki

CEO, Energy Development Oman (EDO)

Bio

Mazin Al Lamki is the CEO of EDO. Prior to joining EDO, he spent over 12 years with Mubadala Energy, where he climbed from manager of asset management and operations to COO and worked across markets in the UAE and South East Asia. He began his career at PDO as an oilfield construction and maintenance mechanical works supervisor and went on to join Schlumberger, working in managerial positions across sales, marketing, recruitment, regional management, and oilfields. He has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Manchester.

"Maintaining credibility internationally is indeed a challenge, given the dynamic nature of global markets and investor sentiment."

Mazin Al Lamki, CEO of Energy Development Oman (EDO), talks to TBY about the local oil and gas sector.

EDO was established by royal decree in 2020 with the purpose of managing the country’s largest oil and gas assets. Where did that need arise from?

It was driven by the need to realize efficiencies and unlock growth opportunities in Oman’s energy sector, including oil and gas as well as new energies. This strategic redirection towards a market-driven management approach is in harmony with Oman’s Vision 2040, which emphasizes sustainability and economic diversification. Enhanced governance, rigorous oversight, specialized industry focus, and agility in commercial operations, coupled with a commitment to legal and financial soundness, are the cornerstones of this new approach. Under EDO’s stewardship, strategic asset management, initiatives for cost efficiency, and the adoption of industry best practices are instrumental in fostering financial stability, securing energy supply, amplifying revenue, and reducing production costs. Adopting this model would strengthen Oman’s resilience against the uncertainties of market fluctuations and the challenges of the energy transition. It also enables the government to refocus its attention on its intended role of policymaking and being a regulator. Furthermore, EDO’s proactive measures to diversify financing methods, sustain an investment-grade credit rating, and reform governance protocols substantially boost the operational effectiveness and financial robustness of the nation’s energy sector, thereby ensuring its long-term sustainability, and significant contribution to the nation’s economic diversification efforts.

Three years on, what has been EDO’s impact on Oman’s energy sector?

Reflecting on EDO’s journey over the past three years, the organization has evolved from start-up phase to become a mature operational entity. In the initial phase, our focus was on establishing the necessary infrastructure and capabilities to effectively manage our most strategic assets in Block 6. I must admit, this was certainly rewarding experience for me personally since my return to Oman back in 2022. This journey has been challenging, but we’ve made significant progress, particularly in identifying strategic opportunities and formulating our Asset Strategy  for Block 6 after completing thorough assessments. Ambitious objectives were embraced, including strengthening our core business, enhancing resilience against market volatility, and implementing procurement and governance enhancements. Led by a dedicated team of Omani talent, strategic governance reforms were also initiated, alongside the launch of Hydrom and EDO Gas entities. In alignment with Oman’s green energy objectives, EDO, through its subsidiary Hydrom, successfully executed block auctions and established strategic consortiums with international investors and developers. Collaborations with entities such as Hyport Duqm, Green Energy Oman (GEO), BP, and the SalalaH2 consortium for the green hydrogen production in the Duqm region. Financially, EDO’s journey toward financial independence has been marked by fiscal discipline and strategic capital management. The securing of substantial capital for Block 6, innovative asset-backed financing, and fiscal negotiations have been instrumental in executing Oman’s financial strategies. Notably, achieving a USD1 billion sukuk deal and generating over USD100 million in savings, only made possible by EDO in-house innovative capital management. EDO’s journey is just beginning, and while we have achieved significant milestones, we recognize that there is still much work to be done as we are still laying the foundation for the future.

How did EDO raise its credit rating beyond that of Oman’s?

From the outset, we’ve focused on safeguarding our assets against market fluctuations, particularly within Block 6, ensuring budgetary stability even during economic downturns. therefore, our strategy has been clear: cut inefficiencies and attract investments that boost the country’s finances and growth. The approach is straightforward—stop value leakage and boost revenues through smart investments. Following a careful review of the asset’s financial framework, in relation to the volatility of the oil markets, EDO developed strategies to minimize the impact of market downturns, protecting the nation’s finances and its credit standing. We have designed our financial management approach to absorb volatility shocks, safeguard government revenues, and maintain a robust profile with credit agencies, therefore, mitigating risks, preserving the government’s revenue, and maintaining a solid credit reputation.

How do you permanently cut production costs?

Our approach going forward must be centred on doing things differently, EDO is adopting a comprehensive approach centered on re-evaluating spending habits and operational models. We’re reassessing every aspect of our operations, from sourcing strategies to design frameworks, with a critical eye on distinguishing between essential and discretionary expenditures. Our aim is to shift the cost structure by minimizing fixed costs and prioritizing variable costs, thereby enhancing operational flexibility amidst market fluctuations. Furthermore, optimizing procurement, sourcing, and supply chain management practices presents significant opportunities for cost savings. We are optimistic about the potential benefits and synergies identified through this process and are currently focused on executing implementation plans to realize these opportunities.

How challenging is it to consistently maintain this credibility in the international arena, and how do you plan to do so?

Maintaining credibility internationally is indeed a challenge, given the dynamic nature of global markets and investor sentiment. EDO plans to uphold its international standing through consistent financial discipline, strategic investments that foster sustainable growth, and transparent communication with stakeholders. Rigorous fiscal management and adherence to best practices in governance will be key. Furthermore, EDO intends to leverage its successes, like strategic partnerships and innovative financing arrangements, as benchmarks of reliability and foresight, reinforcing its reputation as a resilient and forward-thinking entity in the energy sector.

What is your view on the global sustainability conversation, and how do you balance business needs with sustainable practices?

The way I see this topic is simple, sustainability without security is meaningless. The energy transition means producing any kind of energy responsibly, considering both cost and the environment, therefore emphasizing responsible energy production. However, if it is not affordable, available, reliable, and responsible then it is not a sustainable transition, and those leading the industry are rightly balancing those priorities. True transition involves not just shifting to greener sources but also enhancing efficiency and reducing carbon-footprint from existing operations. EDO is leveraging Oman’s abundant renewable resources like solar and wind for green projects, recognizing the evolving energy mix while acknowledging the continued importance of oil and gas, with gas becoming the transition fuel making it increasingly significant to Oman.

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