Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, MARCH 22 –
Local contracting firm Al Duqm Global Construction has been awarded the main contract to undertake the construction of Oman’s first sebacic acid plant at the Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Total investment in the project, promoted by Omani-Indian joint venture Sebacic Oman, is estimated at RO 62.7 million.
Work on the facility, which represents the first overseas industrial investment in the SEZ, is well under way with civil works on track for completion well before the project’s commissioning targeted before the end of this year.
Speaking to journalists during a site visit organised by the SEZ Authority at Duqm (SEZAD), Al Duqm Global representatives said the foundations of the key components of the project, notably the centrepiece sebacic acid plant as well as dedicated facilities for the production of octanol, sulphuric acid, glycerine and dioctyl phthalate (DOP), were currently being constructed in place.
Extracted from castor oil, sebacic is used in many industries, such as chemicals, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. It is also used as an intermediate ingredient in the manufacture of detergents, paints and perfumes.
The 30,000 tonnes per annum capacity sebacic acid plant, the foundation stone for which was laid last October, represents the first phase of Sebacic Oman’s long-term vision to establish a world-scale bio-refinery integrated with a biopolymer refinery at Duqm.
According to the project’s promoters, Phase 1 is slated to come on stream before the end of this year. Aside from the plant’s output of around 30,000 tonnes of sebacic acid, the project will also generate plasticisers, nylons and biopolymers. In Phase 2, a further investment of $250 million is envisaged, followed by an additional investment of $450 million in Phase 3 spanning the 2022-24 timeframe.
The resulting bio-refinery will take advantage of its location adjoining the $6 billion Duqm Refinery currently in early stages of construction next door. Rounding off the grand vision of a sebacic acid hub in the Sultanate is the planned addition of a biopolymer refinery to the complex. Investments at full build are estimated to total $1.2 billion.
Significantly, Sebacic Oman will also benefit from its proximity to the new Bulk Liquid Terminal currently under development at the nearby Port of Duqm. The terminal will enable the handling of tankers bringing castor oil as feedstock for the project, and the loading of sebacic acid and other liquid derivatives for overseas markets.