Oman is planning to award two major contracts on a scheme to build the Middle East’s largest oil terminal by the end of the year, according to project owner Oman Tank Terminal Company (OTTCO).

State-owned OTTCO is preparing to build a facility with a capacity to store 200 million barrels of oil at Ras Markaz in Al-Wusta governorate on Oman’s central coastline.

OTTCO received expressions of interest on 22 August from companies vying for the project’s front-end engineering and design (feed) and project management consultancy (PMC) contracts. “We’re getting pre-qualification out to the companies now. We expect to award the contracts hopefully in mid-December,” says a source from OTTCO.

The terminal will be built in phases over 1,600 hectares and will include marine facilities for loading and unloading crude oil. The first phase is expected to be operational by 2017.

OTTCO is 90 per cent owned by Oman Oil Company (OOC) and 10 per cent owned by Takamul Investment Company, which is itself 90 per cent owned by OOC.

The Ras Markaz Crude Oil Park will be connected to the main line at Nahada through a 440-kilometre pipeline as part of an agreement with the Oil & Gas Ministry. There is also expected to be a pipeline between the terminal and the planned Duqm refinery, which will be located 70km north of Ras Markaz on the Al-Wusta coast.

Oman plans for Ras Markaz to be the biggest crude storage facility in the Middle East, playing the same role as Singapore in Asia and Rotterdam in Europe.

The Ras Markaz project, along with the planned export terminal and refinery and petrochemicals complex at Duqm, could see Al-Wusta emerge as a key hub for the global oil industry by the end of this decade.