The Business Year

Salah Al-Harthy, Director Business Development & Well Services Division of Abraj Energy Services, Oman

OMAN - Energy & Mining

Salah Al-Harthy

Director Business Development & Well Services Division, Abraj Energy Services, Oman

Bio

With a career spanning over 26 years, Salah al Harthy has been a part of Abraj Energy Services since 2011. Starting as the Business Development Manager, Salah has been a part of the tremendous growth of the company including the foray into new service lines. Prior to his tenure with us, Salah worked with Schlumberger from 1996 to 2010 and in various domestic as well as overseas assignments including Saudi, UAE, Venezuela, Egypt, and USA. His technical expertise includes Cementing, Sand Face Completion, Fracturing, Sand Control, Completion Accessories and Matrix Acidizing Treatments amongst others.

“Our company has grown rapidly over the last 15 years and we’re the leading drilling contractor in Oman today. We have almost a 30% market share in drilling and work over.”

TBY talks to Salah Al-Harthy, Director Business Development & Well Services Division of Abraj Energy Services, Oman, about highlights from the past year, innovation, and the company’s strategic priorities.

What are some of the company’s in-country operations and what have been the major highlights of the past year?

Abraj Energy started in 2006 and the first operation followed in 2007. Our goal and vision at that time was to be the market leader in the drilling business and the rest of well services engineering. Another key goals since the beginning was to cater to local employment. Our company has grown rapidly over the last 15 years and we’re the leading drilling contractor in Oman today. We have almost a 30% market share in drilling and work over. We managed to start our well services component for our business in well engineering. We’re also active in the cementing and fracking business, cold tubing and so on. We take great pride in having started all these businesses by ourselves without any kind of partnership or joint ventures. We built this company from the ground up. We were the first local company in the MENA region to start in the fracturing business, paving the way for others back in 2013. Today, we are the second ranked player in the fracking business in the Omani market.

What’s your strategic plan to maintain this position as the leading drilling contractor?

We have demonstrated an outstanding health, safety and environment (HSE) performance and greatly invest in this area. We have innovative tools with which to improve ourselves, and continue building on this. We also have excellent performance in the field resulting from our innovative tools and upgrades. This is how we maintain our assets to ensure safe operation and continuous improvement. Indeed, we have created a continuous improvement department. This unit looks after improving our internal processes and those in the field. We look at the Lean programs including Lean Six Sigma and so on. This improves our processes both operationally in the field and in the office. For example, we became one of the leaders in rig moving because the continuous improvement team managed to look at that process and completely improve it. Our clients trust Abraj as the go-to company because of all these systems in place and being the leading drilling contractor when it comes to innovative technologies at the rig itself. We believe we will maintain our market-leader position if we continue with the same mentality.

What innovative technologies are you currently exploring and deploying across your operations?

We look at many aspects, and have adopted all kinds of automation in the design of our drilling unit. The process at site requires limited human intervention versus on a conventional rig. A conventional rig today requires around 40 to 45 people per shift to run the process. In our new drilling unit, we’ve reduced that by almost 25% and have around 60 personnel instead of 80 to 85. That’s a big shift resulting from the application of technologies and reduces health and safety related risks. We’ve adopted technologies today that can monitor the operation of all our rigs here at the head office in Muscat. We have CCTV to oversee the entire operation and intervene if we feel there’s any kind of an unsafe act or irregular behavior. We started working with our partners to take this innovation even further through the application of artificial intelligence. We don’t need human intervention to say if something is going to happen and want technology to tell the people on site how to predict an incident before it occurs. We hope to have this artificial intelligence embedded in 1Q2023. We are also looking at collecting all of our drilling data. We are the only drilling contractor in Oman today that works with multiple clients at the same time.

How important is promoting local talent for Abraj and in which other ways do you promote or improve ICV?

We currently have over 90% Omanization rate which places us among the highest in our industry. The beauty is this percentage ranges from upper management to the guard at the gate. We strive to provide several programs to promote our employees internally. We’re continuously launching programs, and are in the midst of launching a competency program that will enable our employees to self-promote and evaluate. It’s like a career path and involves a software program that we’ve put in place so employees will know how to appraise themselves in terms of their performance and what they have to do to reach the next level. It can be monitored, audited and checked between the supervisor or manager and their employees. That’s something we are trying to do to ensure that employees can continuously improve themselves in their workplace. We are working to give them employment opportunities with Abraj. We also greatly encourage goods made in Oman, working with local suppliers who can provide goods from outside, but through local suppliers.

What steps is Abraj taking to engage sustainability in production or drilling?

We’re continuously working on a framework for our future sustainability program. Being a very innovative company, we’re always looking into technologies to propel us forward. We’re focused on reducing our carbon footprint and emissions. We are working on two projects at the moment. One is geared at reducing the intake of energy in our vehicle fleet. We worked on a prototype project and managed to improve the efficiency of our electrical requirement such as heaters, ACs, and so on. We looked at solar as well. We wanted to reduce the high intake of the diesel in the fleet, eventually replacing bigger engines with a smaller highly efficient engine. We’re also working on a biofuel project at the drilling sites that’s similar in nature. We are looking at how we can reduce diesel intake by replacing it with alternative energy, so we can combine the two. This will ultimately reduce emissions, fuel costs and maintenance by using a cleaner energy in our fleet. We are hoping to have a pilot test somewhere around 1Q or 4Q of 2023. This is how we are going to reduce the carbon footprint.

What are the main strategic priorities for Abraj over the next few years?

We must continue to maintain our presence as the leading drill contractor, as well as expand our frack and web services businesses. One of our biggest aspirations is to go beyond Oman and establish an international presence. We’re looking to enter the GCC countries or expand within the MENA region. We are also focused on working on hydrocarbon-efficient solutions to reduce diesel intake. We believe that it’s going to be a big game changer not just for us, but also for the industry, and a major project in itself. If we manage to do this, then we’ll work with the rest of the industry and see how we can collectively reduce emissions.

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