Omani downstream operator Orpic’s planned $6.5bn Liwa Plastics Industries Complex (LPIC) is expected to be commissioned late 2019 or early 2020, according to a senior official.

“By late 2019 and early 2020, we’re planning to start the LPIC project, and the following year we’re expecting to fully operate it,” said Said al-Mahrouqi, planning and optimisation manager at Orpic.

He was speaking at the 8th Argus Middle East Oil Products Conference in Dubai on 23 October.

Oman, which has embarked on greater downstream integration plans to develop LPIC to produce polyethylene, polypropylene and benzene. The project will be integrated with the revamped Sohar Refinery, which will provide feedstock for the complex.

“840,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of high-density polyethylene and linear low-density polyethylene will be produced. Also 200,000 tpa of polypropylene, 168,000 tpa of gasoline as well as 46,000 tpa of benzene will be produced,” he added.

About 39 per cent of the feedstock for the project will be sourced from the natural gas liquids extraction plant at Fahud, which is located 400km from Sohar. Around 20 per cent will be dry gas, 34 per cent from liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and seven per cent from natural gas condensates.

“Currently, we’re exporting LPG after meeting local demand. We have a lot of dry gas that is produced but today we’re just burning it into the fuel gas system. Also, we’re exporting our natural gas – either we export it as liquefied natural gas or use it internally, so actually we can use this in a better way,” said al-Mahrouqi.

The Liwa plastics project – which will turn Oman into a polyethylene producer for the first time – is set to enhance both fuel and plastics production to 11.3 million tpa and 1.4 million tpa respectively when operational.

Polyethylene finds several uses in the packaging industry. Demand for this downstream product has grown in recent years, particularly from Asia, owing to the rise of middle classes with increasing disposable incomes.