A History of Shell Oman
Shell's presence in Oman has been a continuous one since the beginning of the Sultanate's oil Industry. In December 2018, Shell Oman celebrated 60 years of serving Oman.
Shell began its downstream marketing operations in Oman in 1958 when the Shell Company of South Eastern Arabia - the forerunner of Shell Markets (Middle East) Limited – obtained trading rights from the Late Sultan Said bin Taimur. The fuel was initially imported on trading dhows, the drums were tied with a rope and floated ashore and then hand-rolled inland. All trading was carried out through a local agent.
When in 1958 Shell obtained a contract from PDO to supply fuel it was decided to build a depot at Saih al Mailah Bay (now known as Mina al Fahal). The department had two bulk tanks for motor gasoline and Gasol, a two paint bulk filling gantry, a go-down for lubricants, a drum filling gantry, a small depot office and a house.
The depot was commissioned and the first bulk cargo was discharged from the “Dilmun” through a submarine pipeline to the beach. When the tanks were eventually full, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to mark the occasion on 12th December 1958.
In 1962, Shell started selling aviation fuels, supplied in four-gallon tins at the old airport of Bait al Falaj. Later, with the opening of Seeb International Airport, Shell would go on to become the major supplier of aviation fuels, fuelling services and lubricants at all airports in Oman.
Towards the end of Shell’s first decade in Oman, the sales in Oman reached 184,000 barrels and represented 15% of the total business of Shell Markets (Middle East) Ltd. which was established in 1966 with its General Manager based in Doha (it would not be until 1982 that Oman would have its first resident General Manager).
A new office was built at Mina al Fahal in 1968 with an adjoining pre-fab bungalow to house the representative. In July 1970, perhaps the most important event in the 5000 year history of Oman happened – the ascension of His Majesty Sultan Quboos bin Said who started the renaissance and irrevocably launched Oman on a path of rapid modernization, changing the face of the land and bringing about social and economic resurgence.
In 1974 a new Government-owned fuels depot was constructed in the south at Raysut adjacent to the new deep water harbour. The depot was designed by Shell and could be replenished even at the height of the monsoon season. Shell operations were transferred from the original depot at Salalah to the Raysut depot.
Growth continued apace in Oman and in 1976, sales from the Ruwi Filling Station exceeded a million litres a month, the third largest throughput for a Shell station anywhere in the world at that time.
The Government commissioned Shell International to design and supervise the construction of a refinery at Mina al Fahal to supply fuels needed by the country.
By 1981, Shell had over 200 staff serving its marketing activity in Oman.
Many of these were Omanis recruited over the preceding 20 years and who had played a vital role in developing the marketing operations giving it a unique and distinctly Omani aspect to its character.
The company had become a major part of Shell’s overall marketing activity in the Middle East and it was therefore decided to appoint a resident General Manager.
The organization was further strengthened by the appointment of Sales and Finance managers and by many additions at the senior staff level.
Training capabilities were boosted to enable the company to develop effectively the skills of Omanis who were by now accounting for an increasing part of the workforce.
In November 1982 the new Government-owned Oman Refinery came on full stream, providing supplies of refined products direct to Shell’s depot at Mina al Fahal.
In 1982 an agreement was reached between Shell and local participants for establishing a Lube Oil Blending Plant to produce lubricants in the Sultanate.
The success of the Lube Oil Blending Plant can be attributed to two key areas. First, the plant which was designed and built using expertise of the Shell Group specialists has proven to be reliable and flexible.
Second, it had access to the Shell brand and international formulations and has been able to sell its products through the Shell’s retail network and through Shell’s marketing facilities to export through other Shell Group companies outside Oman.
In December 1990, the hundredth Shell Filling Station was opened at Al Nazari. H E Shaikh Ahmed Mohammed A’Sheedi, the Wali of Ibra, was the chief guest who cut the ribbon.
In 1993, the Lube Oil Blending Plant became the first in Oman to receive ISO 9002 certification for lubricant oil blending, storage, handling and distribution. The Lubricant Plant also won the His Majesty’s Five best Factories Award.
In 1996 Shell Marketing Oman became the first fuel company in the Sulatanate to receive the ISO 9002 certification and the Quality Assurance coordinators received tokens of appreciation in recognition of their hard work.
The first Select 24-hour convenient store opened in Khuwair in September 1996. The number of Select outlets grew in the later years to reach 55 stores in Oman offering pleasant clean environment for quick, easy shopping experience.
In July 2000, a dedicated Customer Service Centre was opened at SOM’s main office.
In August 2000, Shell Helix Express, Oman’s first high-tech oil change facility was launched. Rainbow Car Wash – the gentle way to a shiny car was also launched in August 2000 at Al Sarooj service station.
In October 2000, Shell Oman Marketing’s website was launched (www.shelloman.com.om) making it the first Shell company in the Middle East and South Asia to have its own website.
In order to reach out to customers proactively, “Tell Shell” programme was launched through forecourts and Shell Oman website to create a direct link for providing valuable feedback to further improve the Company’s services.
In July 2005, SOM launched the Shell Helix Super Motor Oil in a distinctive yellow pack.
By the end of 2007, Omanisation in Shell Oman exceeded 85% which is way higher above the target percentage set by the Ministry of Manpower.
On the fiftieth anniversary of Shell Oman, as we look back on our past we are filled with pride at our achievements and with hope for the future. The Government and the people have supported and encouraged our efforts. The country’s ancient culture and modern outlook have combined together to inspire us to serve them better. It’s a partnership that tells, “Together we shall herald a better future for all.”
The Company continued to innovate in the face of ever-evolving customer needs, with the focus on convenience and brand engagement. Market dynamics and consumer behaviours also evolved with the changing macroeconomic conditions. In addition, there was a renewed focus on sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.
This was underlined by the launch of Goal Zero initiative: No harm, No leak; as well as the setting of a new record for total number of days with no Lost Time Injury (LTI) incidents during the decade.
Meanwhile, the Company continued to leverage its affiliation to the global Shell brand and R&D to offer differentiated quality products and services to the Omani market.
During the decade, Shell Oman capitalised on the country’s major investments in infrastructure projects in the logistics sector to realise significant business opportunities in retail, lubricants, commercial fuel, bitumen, marine, and aviation. The Company played a crucial role by delivering world-class fuel technology with the highest operational excellence and HSSE while creating sustainable socioeconomic benefits.