MUSCAT: Korean authorities have revealed that a consortium of steelmaker POSCO Holdings and construction giant Samsung Engineering is in the race for a land block offered under Oman’s auction route for developers of major green hydrogen projects.
Korean news agency Yonhap stated in a report on Thursday that the consortium has been selected as a ‘preferred negotiator’ – a formal title typically given to a bidder shortlisted to win a project at the end of a competitive process.
The Ministry of Energy and Minerals, the regulator of Oman’s emerging green hydrogen industry, recently revealed that awards for the first two blocks offered as part of the first round of auctions, will be announced in the coming weeks.
The auction route is being overseen by Hydrom, an independent state-run entity orchestrating the sound development of this critical sector.
Last December, POSCO - one of the world’s largest steelmakers – announced that it was weighing investment in a mega green hydrogen project, alongside a green steel mill, at Duqm in the southeast of the Sultanate of Oman.
Addressing the Korea-Oman Green Hydrogen Strategic Forum 2022 held in Muscat at the time, a top official of the company said a heavyweight consortium was being assembled to bid for available acreage offered up by the Omani government via the auction route.
In addition to producing green hydrogen to decarbonise its massive industrial assets, the company said it was also examining the potential for establishing plants for the production of green hot briquetted iron (HBI) – the primary raw material for steel mills – in cost-competitive locations.
Korea is also offering its considerable technological wherewithal and contracting capabilities in executing green hydrogen projects in Oman.
According to Yonhap, Korean Second Vice Industry Minister Kang Kyung-sung urged Oman to tap Korean expertise in the implementation of these projects.
The appeal came during a visit by Mohsin bin Hamad al Hadhrami, Oman's under-secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, who was in the southern port city of Busan to participate in 2023 World Climate Industry Expo recently.
Both sides also explored avenues to bolster bilateral cooperation in various aspects of the energy sector with the goal of ensuring stable energy supply chains.
South Korea remains a major market for Omani LNG, accounting for at one time, nearly 45 per cent of LNG exports from Qalhat plant. In 2021, Oman was the source of nearly 10 per cent of Seoul’s total LNG imports.