Talal Al-Khaled: KOTC’s fleet is a strategic essential to better market our oil worldwide


The award winner “Kuwait Oil Tanker Company” has succeeded in operating its fleet efficiently and applying the latest technical technologies. With more than 60 years of constant achievements, the company has played a strategic role regionally and globally while becoming a leading global shipping company. In a addition to providing highly trained national cadres to operate the fleet and sail successfully around the world.

In an exclusive interview with Sheikh Talal Al Khaled Al Sabah, the Chief Executive Officer of “Kuwait Oil Tanker Company”, Marasi News discussed the company's landmark accomplishments and its leading role in the global shipping industry.

By Effat Mostafa

1. Your company was established as an initiative by a group of Kuwaiti business leaders with government support. To what extent did the Government's support contribute to the success of KOTC?

The idea of ​​establishing the company initiated with a group of Kuwaiti business leaders who realized the importance of oil and the need to transport it, as the world is using oil as a major source of energy. Thereby, the first oil tanker “Kazma” was bought on 1959. There was a significant increase in the global demand for oil, therefore the government decided in 1976 to become a partner in KOTC with 49% which provided strong support to the development of the company. As per our plan to gather all the operations in the petroleum industry under one entity, the government decided to fully own the company in 1979. We have achieved this leading global position not only with the support and encouragement of the government but with the mutual collaboration we have with the private sector.

During 2016-2017, the company sailed about 2 million nautical miles to approximately 600 ports around the world. We also transported approximately 34 million metric tons of crude oil, petroleum products and liquefied gas to multiple ports around the world with high efficiency and without any accidents of marine pollution.

1. How does your plan contribute in further strengthening Kuwaiti national fleet and how many vessels do you currently operate?

We are always open for new strategic partnerships in the global shipping industry. In order to achieve this goal, we have started to implement our multi-stage strategic plan that aims at enhancing the leading role of Kuwait's regional and international vessels, which requires renewing our fleet according to the international standards.

We are proud to own one of the largest fleets amongst the Arab countries in in terms of the number of vessels, the different sizes and the types.  We currently have 29 tankers; 12 giant crude oil tankers, 4 gas carriers (LNG), 7 oil derivatives tankers, 4 dedicated tankers for petroleum products and chemicals and 2 for fuel. Moreover and by 2020, we would have completed the final stage of our five-year plan and our fleet will consist of 37 vessels.

2. How did your company deal with the flag, do you carry Kuwaiti flag or other international flags?

Since the establishment of our company in 1957, KOTC proudly carries Kuwait's flag. This has put a huge responsibility on us, as carrying the Kuwaiti flag is affected by the political or economic factors which in turn might obstruct the operations. However, thanks to the efforts of our staff, whether in the (KOTC) or Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), we overcome all the hindrances which turn into a now a unique experience for us that we currently use in our operations to apply the highest levels of security required in this field.

3. In light of the current fluctuations in oil prices, what are the challenges that your company is currently facing and how do you manage them?

In light of the current global challenges and fluctuations in oil prices, our investments in the oil industry are continuously growing. Kuwait is keen on developing the oil industry as it will contribute in developing our national economy. Although we have witnessed a drop down in oil prices and a decrease in the shipping revenues, we are still moving ahead with our strategic projects that will further strengthen the country's development plans. We have set our priorities in line with the current circumstances in the world. Thus, we reduced expenses in order to maximize revenues as per the country’s plan applied by (KPC) and its subsidiaries.

4. What about the woman role, and how did they achieve success in this field?

Kuwaiti women play a vital role in the oil sector. They occupy leading positions in KOTC and they strive to achieve more success in order to be part of the development and enhancement process. We are proud that our female employees are about 20% of our total workforce.

5. What is KOTC role to support Kuwaiti students and sending them abroad to complete their maritime studies?

Our company plays a major role in providing competitive highly qualified cadres in the maritime field. We provide maritime training for our personnel and we collaborate with other oil companies in this area to provide advanced training programs in the maritime field. We also have an advanced educational program, where we send scholars to study maritime sciences and engineering abroad in the most reputable maritime universities.

Furthermore, we won the award of being active in preparing and graduating marine leaders in the Maritime Conference & Expo (MARACAD 2016) as we have an important role in preparing outstanding generation of Kuwaiti cadres. Moreover, we have signed a collaboration agreement with (KOC) to send students to study in the UK as part of our commitment to prepare national highly trained manpower.

We currently have 32 scholars studying in the UK, including 17 marine officers and 16 marine engineers. We have also graduated 15 students since the re-established of maritime expedition system in 2010. Currently we have 33 Kuwaiti marine officers and engineers on board.

6. Can we have an in overview about the latest technologies that your company is using to reduce pollution?

KOTC works hard to protect the environment by complying with highest international standards which in turn reflects positively on the quality and the performance of our fleet. We operate a fleet of modern giant crude oil tankers that is equipped with the latest systems and equipment, including “Tank stabilizer water treatment system". This system treats sea water used to fill the "Tank stabilizer" before entering the vessel tanks then treats it again before discharging it into the waters. This will reduce microbial invasion and will protect Marine micro-organisms in the regional waters.

7. What do you expect from Marasi News to enhance the role of maritime industry or the other commercial sectors?

The maritime commercial fleet plays an important role in facilitating the movement of goods, reducing transport fees and boosting the global, the economy and the logistics system. The shipping sector is considered as one of the main pillars for economic development for many countries in the world. It contributes in improving income, offer employment opportunities for national manpower and develop seaside cities through establishing marine projects such as ports, shipyards, shipping companies and factories.

If we take a look at the world map, we will see that many countries made a good use of their sea coasts as they built large commercial fleets operating around the world, while other countries are still depending on foreign fleets. Arab countries, particularly the Gulf Region are competing in opening new shipping lines and building ports, especially that Arab countries have large fleets equipped with the latest technologies used in the industry.

This is further strengthens Marasi News efforts to better expose the Arab entities  in the maritime sector and focus on their major achievements, which in turn will enhance the strategic role of Gulf and Middle East countries and support their global position in this sector, especially if they will have partnerships that will serve this purpose.