Investors mull two methanol projects in Duqm SEZ in Oman

Chee Khian Lee, CEO – SEZAD

Ambitious: Move bodes well for growth of petrochemicals hub in Duqm

Conrad Prabhu –
Muscat, APRIL 5 –
Investors from China are weighing plans to develop a pair of methanol projects in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Duqm – a move set to reinforce Duqm’s emerging appeal as a potential global hub for petrochemicals.
The proposed methanol schemes, implementation of which hinge on the availability of natural gas as feedstock, also have the potential to spawn the growth of downstream petrochemical businesses, according to a top official of the SEZ Authority at Duqm (SEZAD).
Chee Khian Lee, CEO — SEZAD, said the ventures are being mooted by two separate groups of Chinese investors. “Both are trying to first secure gas supply before they can decide on the next steps. Both are also looking at alternative feedstock supplies besides piped gas, including condensate and liquefied natural gas (LNG),” he pointed out.
Lee, whose principal remit as CEO is to attract investors to what has been billed at the largest SEZ in the Middle East, made the revelation on the second day of the Oman Downstream Exhibition & Conference under way at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre. His presentation outlined opportunities for the growth of a large-scale petrochemicals industry in the SEZ.
Earlier on Tuesday, Oman Oil Duqm Development Company, one of the verticals of the wholly government owned strategic investment group Oman Oil Company, unveiled plans for the establishment of a mammoth petrochemicals complex at the Zone (SEZ). Featuring as many as 10 large-scale plants, the complex will also open the way for the development of around 30 chemical processing businesses downstream of the value chain.
One of the two proposed methanol plants, said Lee, is backed by a Chinese group which has a subsidiary in neighbouring United Arab Emirates (UAE). The other is mooted by investors based in the northeastern part of China where they source their feedstock requirements from Russia.
“They want to come to Duqm because their goal is to supply methanol to central Asia and the western part of China utilizing the shorter route via the Pakistani port at Gwadar to access these markets,” the CEO noted.
Oman already hosts two major methanol schemes – a privately owned plant in Sohar Industrial Port, and a wholly government owned project in Salalah Free Zone.