The parties behind the planned Duqm Refinery, Oman’s largest single-phase project, are in discussions to offload a 10 per cent stake to a third partner, according to sources familiar with the scheme.

Three engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages for the 230,000 barrel-a-day (b/d) refinery were awarded earlier this month.

South Korea’s SK Energy is in discussions to join as a partner on the $5bn refinery, according to a source close to the scheme. It is understood that the partner will bring its expertise in building petrochemical facilities to help with the later stages of the project. 

The refinery is being developed by a joint venture of Oman Oil Company and Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI), the overseas investment arm of state-run Kuwait Petroleum Corporation. The Kuwaiti firm replaced Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company, which exited the scheme in 2016.

The Duqm Refinery scheme has yet to reach financial close; this milestone is hoped to be achieved in November.

Access to finance has been challenging for Oman, whose credit rating was reduced to junk status by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s in May.

The EPC contract for package one, which involves developing oil processing facilities, was awarded to South Korea’s Daewoo and Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas.

The second package, which covers facilities, utilities tankage and buildings, was awarded to UK’s Petrofac and South Korea’s Samsung Engineering. The contract is estimated to be worth more than $2bn.

The third EPC package was awarded to Italy’s Saipem and includes eight storage tanks in Ras Markaz, a product export terminal and 80km interconnecting pipeline to Duqm. The contract is estimated to be worth $900m.

The refinery will receive 70 per cent of its crude feedstock from Kuwait, and the remainder coming from local fields.

Once commissioned, it will produce diesel, jet fuel, naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas, sulphur and pet coke as its primary products, which will be traded from the adjacent Duqm port.