BP is negotiating with the government of Oman over the building of a large $1 billion petrochemical plant in Duqm, according to news site The Times of Oman. .
BP has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Oil and Gas to build the project, which will be of strategic importance to Oman’s economy, Jamie Bowden, British Ambassador to the Sultanate, told Times of Oman in an exclusive interview.
“With this potential investment, BP intends to build the world’s first acetic acid manufacturing plant using BP’s new SaaBre process. This is a breakthrough process in converting synthetic gas to synthetic acid, which will lead to a reduction in manufacturing costs,” said Bowden, adding that only BP has this technology. “So, Oman can then become the holder of this technology. It (the project) will be the biggest plant of this type in the Middle East.”
Acetic acid is a versatile intermediate chemical, used in a variety of products, such as paints, adhesives and solvents, as well as in the production of purified terephthalic acid, used extensively for manufacturing polyester.
The ambassador also noted that the petrochemical project will offer several opportunities for downstream expansion. If everything goes as planned, the United Kingdom’s investment in Oman will increase significantly.
Bowden also pointed out that another $342 million investment in the Sohar Free Zone was recently announced by Tri-Star Resources – a joint venture formed by investors from the United Kingdom, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The joint venture firm will “build a pyrometallurgical facility for the recovery or antimony as metal ingots or oxide powder from sulphide concentrates.”
He claimed that the location of the facility in the Gulf region provides an excellent centralised logistics route, a supply of secure and relatively inexpensive energy, a modern infrastructure, an experienced workforce and strong industrial partners.
The ambassador also noted that BP’s $10 billion investment for developing the Khazzan tight gas project in north-central Oman has hugely increased the value of British investment in the Sultanate.
“The Khazzan contract is of strategic importance for both countries. It represents a multi-billion dollar investment by a British company in a project that will last for decades,” he said, adding, “The gas produced by BP will be an essential part of Oman’s energy mix and therefore critical to the growth of the Omani economy.”
He also remarked that BP has an extensive programme of training for Omanis to increase their numbers in important jobs. The company intends to employ large numbers of Omanis at all levels. “They will focus on in-country value and on ensuring that Omani SMEs can exploit to the fullest any opportunities that the project will create.”
“The UK has been (for many years) by far the largest foreign investor in Oman, and currently, 36 per cent of all foreign investment in the Sultanate is British, which is far more than any other country,” noted Bowden.
The ambassador also highlighted the strong political and economic relations enjoyed by both countries over the last four centuries. “It is a relationship that is multi-faceted. So, there is a strong diplomatic relationship, a strong education relationship (many Omanis are studying in the United Kingdom), and there is a close cultural relationship.” Source: Arabian Oil & Gas