Interview: Yahya Said Al Jabri

Which Omani sectors have been generating greater interest from investors?

YAHYA AL JABRI: SEZAD received around 425 investment applications in 2018. The projects currently in the pipeline span all sectors targeted for investment, namely manufacturing, tourism, warehousing and logistics, and professional services. The zone offers a range of investment opportunities, and more will come on-line after the establishment of the oil refinery, the crude storage depot at Ras Markaz, the gas pipeline and delivery system from Saih Nihayda, and the fisheries port and manufacturing areas.

In the logistics sector there is a great deal of investor interest in port concession and the crude oil depot. Meanwhile, the industry side is focused on vehicle assembly, non-metallic mineral processing and the production of clinker, cement, fish feed, meal, oil and chemicals. In the tourism and real estate sectors immediate interest has been shown in the development of commercial and office space.

What progress has been made in the development of Duqm Refinery?

AL JABRI: In 2018 Duqm Refinery announced its financial close and the start of construction work on the site. The building of the refinery is divided into three separate engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages: EPC1 includes the process units of the refinery; EPC2 consists of utilities and off-site facilities; and EPC 3 includes the product export terminal at Duqm Port, dedicated crude storage tanks in Ras Markaz, and 80-km interconnecting pipeline from Ras Markaz to Duqm Refinery.

All three of these contracts were awarded to joint ventures with reputable international firms. Engineering work and on-site mobilisation is now well under way. It is important that the execution of the projects follows a strict time frame, in order to ensure integration between the different components as well as to meet commitments to a host of parties, including lending agencies.

Who is responsible for the development of the Duqm oil berth project, and what can be expected once it comes on-line?

AL JABRI: SEZAD is responsible for funding and developing the marine works of the oil berth at Duqm Port. However, the superstructural elements of the berth, which include the loading and unloading facilities, and the storage tank farm, are currently being developed by the Duqm Oil Refinery and Petrochemical Industries Company as part of EPC3.

The oil berth will serve both the refinery and third parties, and will also handle liquids in bulk. We anticipate that the establishment of the oil berth will spur investments in the zone for the storage and blending of oil products, as well as manufacturing that involves the handling of large quantities of liquids for import and export purposes.

How will the master development model help to attract further investment opportunities?

AL JABRI: Due to the greenfield nature of the zone, SEZAD has structured several investment opportunities following the master development model. In line with Oman’s economic diversification strategy, SEZAD recently allocated 750,000 sq metres of land towards the Duqm Commercial and Tourism Gate project and Al Shomookh Mining Industries Complex. Both of these projects follow the master development model and will be implemented in phases.

Under this model, the lead investor, complying with the minimum development requirements, will undertake the responsibility of building on-site infrastructure and end-use projects. Subsequently, the master developer will be able to structure further investment opportunities, which they can offer to third parties as subdevelopers or location tenants.