Oman is targeting the completion of a major refinery and petrochemicals complex at its central coastal city of Duqm by 2017, according to the chairman of Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

State-owned Oman Oil Company (OOC) is developing the projects in a joint venture with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic), which was formed in June 2012.

“The refinery site has been earmarked and the financing elements have been approved between OOC and Ipic,” said Duqm SEZ Chairman Yahya Said al-Jabri, speaking at the MEED Oman Investment Forum in Muscat.

The front-end engineering design (feed) contract for the planned 230,000 barrels a day (b/d) refinery is expected to be tendered later in this year, but few details have been disclosed on the scope of the petrochemicals cluster. However, Al-Jabri confirmed that the petrochemicals units will be developed alongside the $6bn refinery. The project will be the sultanate’s third refinery, with existing facilities located in Muscat and Sohar.

OOC has also completed the feasibility study on a 230-kilometre gas pipeline project to connect Duqm to the Saih Nihayda gas field in central Oman. The pipeline will feed Duqm with natural gas for power generation, water purification, a cement plant and the refinery and petrochemical complex.

The pipeline will have a capacity of 25 million cubic metres a day (cm/d) and is expected to be completed in 2015 or 2016, Al-Jabri said.

Oman is developing Duqm into the sultanate’s fourth major port after Muscat, Salalah and Sohar. The government has already completed the marine infrastructure work and a commercial quay with a 2,300-metre berthing capacity. The next pipeline project is the design and construction of a liquid berth.

“The implementation of this project is moving ahead in line with the construction of the Duqm oil refinery in order to provide it with the required facilities for the import of crude oil and the export of processed products,” said Al-Jabri.