Further strengthening the Sultanate of Oman’s credentials as an emerging international destination for green energy investments, Australian-based global green energy and metals giant Fortescue has offered to set up a potentially world-scale green hydrogen project to support the nation’s decarbonisation, as well as export, ambitions.
But distinguishing Fortescue’s proposal from the raft of green hydrogen projects garnered by Oman over the past two years is a commitment by the Australian conglomerate to provide an integrated green energy solution encompassing, among other things, the initial funding, technology, equipment for the upstream solar and wind farms, and the required electrolyers, generators and batteries as well.
And perhaps crucially for the Sultanate of Oman, the developer has also pledged to invest in local manufacturing capacity, primarily of the electrolysers, drive localisation and job creation, and broadly support the nation’s aspirations to evolve into an end-to-end green energy hub.
On Sunday, Fortescue Founder and Chairman Dr Andrew Forrest met with Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhy, Oman’s Minister of Energy and Minerals, to outline the group’s vision for the Sultanate of Oman, as well as its support for global carbon mitigation efforts.
The meeting was the highlight of a two-day visit that focused basically on the “greening of Oman, greening of the world and Oman’s contribution to greening of the world”, said Dr Forrest.
Speaking exclusively to the Observer, Dr Forrest credited the strength of the nation’s political leadership, and not so much its much-vaunted solar and wind resources, for Fortescue’s choice of Oman as its proposed Middle East destination for its regional green energy investment.
“We are choosing countries now not so much on the basis of their wind, solar hydro, gravity, geothermal or other green energy (resources), but we are choosing countries where we can find leadership with the ability to make decisions in the best interest of their citizens and capture what will be a finite but massive market for green energy,” he said. “Oman has a fossil fuel export business, but it could have a much larger green hydrogen, green ammonia, green energy, and green electricity business.”
While declining to disclose details about the size of the green energy project envisioned in the Sultanate of Oman, Dr Forrest said the proposed venture would be “very substantial” in capacity. He further noted that, unlike other green energy ventures already announced in recent years which typically involve several years of feasibility studies in addition to financing commitments, the Fortescue project has all of the requisite resources, including initial funding, ready to be deployed once a green-light is issued by the Omani authorities.
“We came with proposals to start work immediately,” said Dr Forrest. “We have all the initial funding we need to get going straightaway. We can start as soon as we have a framework agreement.”
Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Dr Forrest’s Fortescue Group, is currently establishing a global portfolio of renewable green hydrogen and green ammonia projects with a target to supply 15 million tonnes per year of renewable green hydrogen by 2030, rising to 50 million tonnes per year in the decade thereafter.
Welcoming the opportunity to meet with Dr Al Rumhy, the Australian businessman said: “It gave me confidence that selecting Oman as one of the countries of the world which has good leadership -- it can make decisions and move ahead -- was the right decision. We do believe that having great leadership and a Monarch who can make decisions quickly for his country and has a benevolent heart for his country, that’s a very good system to work quickly within.”
Fortescue’s proposed green energy venture, Dr Forrest said, will not only meet Oman’s zero-carbon energy requirements, but also create ample amounts for export. More importantly, it will open up domestic manufacturing opportunities designed not only to support Fortescue’s project requirements but also to cater to international export markets. In particular, the production of high-tech electrolysers is envisioned as part of the company’s localisation commitments.
Additionally, the Sultanate of Oman will stand to benefit from the company’s Vocational Training and Employment scheme, which has been successfully implemented in Australia, to prepare young Omanis for jobs across the green hydrogen industry, he stated.
A formal proposal outlining Fortescue’s vision for the Sultanate of Oman will be submitted to the Omani government in the coming days, the CEO added.