Oman to spend Dh19bn to complete Duqm free zone infrastructure by 2020

The special economic zone will include a port, airport, an oil refinery and other facilities by the start of phase one in 2020.

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Oman plans to spend 2 billion Omani riyals (Dh19.1bn) to finish infrastructure work in the Duqm free zone in the south by 2020.

Oman, which has already spent 1.8bn riyals on the zone overlooking the Arabian Sea, is developing the project as part of plans to diversify income away from oil.

The special economic zone will include a port, airport, an oil refinery and other facilities by the start of phase one in 2020, said Yahya Al Zadjali, the head of planning and engineering of the Special Economic Zone Authority Duqm.

“Still there is commitment from the government that for all remaining infrastructure there is a budget,” said Mr Al Zadjali.

Oman is struggling economically because of the oil price slump, which has slashed its income. The IMF expects Oman’s fiscal deficit this year to widen to 14.8 per cent of GDP as Brent oil prices are down by some 40 per cent since last June.

Economic growth in the country is expected to slow to 3.1 per cent next year, according to the IMF. The 230,000 barrels per day refinery will be operational by 2018, Mr Al Zadjali said. The refinery is a joint venture between the state-owned Oman Oil Company and Abu Dhabi's government-owned International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic). In the second phase of the refinery, a petrochemicals complex will be built, he added, without giving more details.

The port’s first phase will have a capacity of 7 million twenty foot equivalent units when it starts up in 2019. The international airport will have a capacity of 500,000 passengers per year when it is completed by 2018.

“There is a lot of interest from international business groups to come and invest due to the infrastructure that has been built by the government and due to the geographical location,” said Mr Al Zadjali.

dalsaadi@thenational.ae

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