The Business Year

Dr. Ali Obaid Al-Yabhouni

UAE, ABU DHABI - Energy & Mining

The High Seas



Since 1992 Dr. Ali Obaid Al-Yabhouni has worked in a wide range of senior positions in the ADNOC Group of Companies. He became CEO of National Gas Shipping Co. Ltd (NGSCO) in 2007, and since January 2009 has also led Abu Dhabi National Tanker Company (ADNATCO). In addition, he has been involved in OPEC affairs since 1999 and is UAE Governor for OPEC and Chairman of the OPEC Board of Governors. He holds a PhD in Law from the University of Tasmania, an MBA from South Eastern University, Washington D.C., and a degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Southern Indiana.

"Our Cadetship Program, which trains UAE nationals to become seamen, is one of our most successful initiatives."

What have been the main achievements of Abu Dhabi National Tanker Co (ADNATCO) and National Gas Shipping Company (NGSCO) in the petroleum sector, and what role did the companies play in developing the Emirate of Abu Dhabi?

We primarily serve Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and its group of companies; however, as a well-positioned and growing regional maritime operator, we also contribute to the trade growth of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Trading with a diversified fleet of ships, which includes LNG carriers, bulk carriers, chemical and products tankers, and container ships, provides us the opportunity to extend our services to the different business sectors of the Emirate. Our vessels carry LNG from Das Island in the Arabian Gulf to Japan, while ADNATCO is involved in worldwide transportation of hydrocarbon products that are produced by ADNOC Group companies.

In 2011, the company acquired over 15 new vessels. How are ADNATCO and NGSCO evolving, and what are the expansion ambitions for companies in the medium term?

We took delivery of our latest ethylene carrier earlier in 2014; however, while we have no immediate orders in the pipeline, we certainly have plans to expand our operational capacity over the coming years in line with our vision to become the leading shipping company in the region and in alignment with ADNOC Group’s production growth. Accordingly, we are looking at a wide range of additional shipping options that could include VLCCs, LPG, chemical carriers, and container ships. In the meantime, we will focus our attention on improving our services by following best practices in all areas of operation. As part of this, we succeeded in the implementation of enterprise resource planning (ERP), an integrated business solution to all our support functions and the fleet. This makes ADNATCO and NGSCO one of the first marine companies in the region to have acquired such an integrated, technology-based approach to managing all our businesses.

“Our Cadetship Program, which trains UAE nationals to become seamen, is one of our most successful initiatives.”

How are ADNATCO and NGSCO planning on fighting high energy prices and resolving the need for more efficient and high-tech ships in the market?

We believe that saving fuel consumption and establishing an organizational culture based on energy efficiency is an effective alternative fuel for the future. To achieve this, we embarked on an initiative called the Al Daffah Project, which was aimed at reducing the CO2 emissions generated by the company’s ships. By using new tools and techniques in managing our fleet, as well as installing new measuring instruments to achieve the company’s targets and improve key performance indicators (KPIs), Al Daffah’s ultimate aim is to achieve huge savings in fuel consumption and greatly reduce CO2 emissions.

How do you think your experience as UAE Governor of OPEC had a positive impact at ADNATCO and NGSCO?

Working for OPEC enables you to have a holistic view of the world economy, particularly the vital role that the energy and transport sectors play in sustaining the vibrancy of global business. As our fleet works in global markets, the insights gained in my capacity as UAE Governor for OPEC definitely contributed to augment my strategic thinking and helps me make more informed decisions.

The recent trends in the crude oil and products tanker market show demand growing in Asia. How do you see the market developing in the medium term, and what will be the strategy of ADNATCO and NGSCO to maintain their leading position in the region?

We always look at the long term. Our strategic objective is to meet the needs for ADNOC and its group of companies for efficient marine transportation. We know that ADNOC certainly remains firmly committed to maintaining a strong presence in the shipping industry. This provides us with numerous opportunities to grow our business and stay in the lead.

The maritime industry faces the increased threat of piracy. Which innovative defensive measures is ADNATCO implementing to ensure the protection of its seafarers and ships?

We remain vigilant and ensure that we have the right preventative measures available to safeguard the security and safety of our crews and ships. We always seek innovative ways to strengthen the defensive mechanism of our ships, and I am happy to say that some of our company’s award-winning innovations in this regard have been adopted by other companies.

Through the Cadetship Program, ADNATCO and NGSCO are strongly committed to the employment of UAE nationals. How is ADNATCO and NGSCO currently investing in the UAE’s capital by forming skilled petroleum professionals?

Our Cadetship Program, which trains UAE nationals to become seamen, is one of our most successful initiatives in developing and employing UAE nationals in key positions throughout the company. Every year we accept over 40 new young high school graduates to join the program, which offers attractive career prospects. Over the years, we have trained hundreds of UAE nationals as maritime professionals, who today hold senior positions, not just at ADNATCO and NGSCO, but also in shipping and port companies throughout the UAE. As a result of this program, over 40% of our seafarers are Emirati nationals. Over time, our national seafarers are taking increasingly senior positions on-board our vessels and already hold Master and Chief Engineer tickets. We also provide a wide range of other opportunities for office-based UAE nationals. Our Tamkeen program provides a structured training program for onshore UAE nationals to support their long-term career development within the company.

© The Business Year – July 2014



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