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Entrepreneurs capitalize on nascent oil industry
The Alessi Group started with one cargo vessel and in little over a decade has grown to dominate the transport of crude Yemeni oil

Ahmed Saleh Al-Essi
Ahmed Saleh Al-Essi Chairman of the Alessi Group

As Yemen pushes to diversify its economy through free trade zones and large real estate projects, officials are also looking at entrepreneurs that have made it the old fashioned way in traditional industries.

Ahmed Saleh Al-Essi, Chairman of the Alessi Group, is a prime study in entrepreneurship. Mr. Al-Essi started his business with one cargo vessel and has since developed a booming trade.

The Alessi Group operated as shipping and marine transport services in the Hodeidah Province until 1995 when Mr. Al-Essi decided to branch out into new areas under the name of the Al Essi Corporation Trade & Investment. Under the new name, Mr. Al-Essi expanded his operations into new industries. According to the company, the Alessi Corporation became one of the pillars of the Yemeni economy.

As the company moved into new areas, it began to purchase entire companies. Of the 19 companies operating under the present day Alessi Group, whose industries range from shipping to construction to plastics, perhaps the most well known is Overseas Shipping. In it Mr. Al-Essi found his niche market. Overseas Shipping is the only company in the country that transports Yemeni crude oil to refineries and delivers petroleum products to various national ports.

The prospects for future crude oil transport in Yemen are very good. Khalid Mahfoud Bahah, Minister of Oil and Minerals noted that Yemen’s oil industry was very young compared to its neighbors. “You could say that Yemen is still a virgin in the petroleum sector,” he said. He pointed out that Yemen is trying to discover new oil as well. “We aim to have extensive exploration. We started 2 years ago and it will continue for many years.”

A new refinery in the Ras Essa area will boost profits for local petrol service companies

Growth in the oil sector is good news to the Alessi Group because it will entail an increase in transport revenue, especially thanks to the Yemen Oil Refinery Company’s announcement that it was building a major new refinery in the Ras Essa area.

Mr. Al-Essi sees a major market in emerging African economies and has already set up shop. He stated: “Our branch in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is able to perform a regional role. It must be known that the opportunities in Africa and the Middle East are extensive.”