Oman set to join ranks of global polyethylene producers

OQ (formerly Oman Oil and Orpic Group) – the Sultanate’s energy conglomerate – celebrated over the weekend the successful start-up of the polyethylene unit of its giant Liwa Plastics Industrial Complex, paving the way for Oman’s historic entry into the ranks of the world’s leading polyethylene producers.

A lightweight, durable thermoplastic, polyethylene is one of the most widely produced plastics in the world with tens of millions of tons produced worldwide each year. Polyethylene is used in applications ranging from films, tubes, plastic parts, and laminates in numerous markets, including packaging, automotive, electrical, electronics, appliances, healthcare products and toys.

“Liwa Plastics Industries Complex, one of the strategic growth projects within OQ Downstream, announced the commencement of the first base resin sample of Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE), now being produced for the first time in Oman,” said a senior official of wholly government-owned OQ.

“We would like to congratulate all OQ employees and Tecnimont contractor for achieving this milestone and thank every individual who has contributed in enabling OQ to become a leading performer,” the official said in a statement posted on LinkedIn.

Marco Crivelli, Project Director of Maire Tecnimont, the Italian engineering giant that was contracted by OQ to build, among other components, the polyethylene unit, stated: “Last night in Oman, something really important has been achieved by Tecnimont! Following the availability of the imported ethylene at our battery limit, the first polyethylene Unit was put in operation, achieving a safe startup and producing the first polymer powder at 11 pm. The dream of an entire project life becoming true! It is a crucial step towards the performance test of the plant, proving the reliability of our work.”

Tecnimont, a subsidiary of Maire Tecnimont, was awarded the contract to construct the polyethylene unit, as well as a polypropylene plant, at a total cost of around $900 million.  The contract was one of four main engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) packages awarded by OQ as part of the $6.7 billion Liwa Plastics petrochemicals scheme that is currently under commissioning within Sohar Port.

Liwa Plastics’ Polyethylene Plant consists of two ‘swing’ units with a capacity of 880,000 tons per year of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE).  Together with a new polypropylene unit of around 300,000 tons/year, it will boost the complex’s overall production of polymers to a world-scale 1.4 million tons/year.

Gilles Rochas, General Manager – Performance Chemicals at OQ, stated: “I would like to congratulate the LPIC project team from OQ for making significant progress possible during this challenging period! We are looking forward to the historic moment of entering the polyethylene market for the first time and to our increased polypropylene capacity so we can serve our customers with more solutions all over the world.

Besides helping optimise value generation from Oman’s hydrocarbon resources, polyethylene and polypropylene production will open up immense opportunities for investment in downstream value addition in the Sultanate.