Interview with Richard McLaughlin, General Counsel for Oman Oil Exploration and Production – part one of our series of interviews on living and working in the Middle East!
Richard McLaughlin is General Counsel for Oman Oil Exploration & Production. An English qualified lawyer, he has been based in Muscat for over five years. Here he answers some questions about living and working in Oman. What attracted you to Oman and why did you first move there? The Company I worked for before, BG Group plc, had a presence in Oman and I knew many people who had lived and worked there. They all spoke very highly of Oman as a place to live and work and when the opportunity came up to go there, I was happy to do so. Also, Oman is an oil and gas province, so it was attractive for an oil and gas lawyer from that perspective. Finally, the family and I have very much enjoyed living in different locations around the world and the cultural and other experiences those opportunities bring, and we wished to continue with this.
Can you describe a typical day for you in Oman?
I arrive early at work and check any emails or issues which have arrived overnight. Usually we will have meetings during the day with colleagues from the Commercial, Finance and Technical functions on various projects and transactions. Quite often I and other members of the team will be attending meetings at the Ministry of Oil and Gas or with joint venture partners. The issues which arise are wide-ranging, so we need to react accordingly, whilst always trying to be as proactive as possible.
How does working in Oman differ from working in your home country?
The commercial, legal and regulatory structures are quite different between the UK and Oman. For example, Oman has a production sharing regime with cost recovery, whereas the UK has a tax and royalty regime. Also, Oman is a civil law jurisdiction, compared to the common law system in the UK. Sometimes the role of lawyers can be perceived to be different in civil law jurisdictions. In terms of work culture, relationships are key in Oman.
Why do you like living in Oman?
Oman is a very friendly and welcoming place, with beautiful scenery. The beaches are amazing and the mountains spectacular. Also, Oman has been very calm and stable.
Where is your favourite place in Oman and why?
Maybe Bandar Khairan, best accessed by boat. The views of the coastline from the sea are amazing. It’s great to spend a day snorkelling or on one of the beaches.
What is your favourite activity in Oman?
Again, probably snorkelling or swimming in the sea.
Have you found anything challenging in living in Oman and how have you overcome that challenge?
The heat in summer is probably the biggest challenge. My first day living in Oman it was 46 degrees and it was 16 when I left the UK that day! You plan your activities accordingly and try to avoid too much exposure to the heat. This is usually a good time of year for trips to Europe!
What advice would you give to a lawyer moving to Oman?
I’d advise them to learn as much about the country and culture as they can before arriving.
For more information regarding in-house legal and compliance roles in Oman and the Middle East contact Iain Rainey at Iain.firstname.lastname@example.org