The Sohar Methanol plant will be built beside the OMC facility and, subject to receiving gas feedstock approval, will be commissioned in mid-2008, a year after the first plant. ‘We are aiming to achieve financial close towards the end of the first quarter of 2006,’ Preece said.

Part of OMC’s output will supply a new $21 million formaldehyde plant, being developed by a 50:50 joint venture of Omzest and Saudi Arabia’s Manso Group. The plant will be built by local contractors and debt financed by local banks, Omzest’s senior vice-president KS Cheema said at the conference. Licensing, engineering and supply of the plant, one of the first downstream petrochemical ventures in Sohar, is being carried out by Denmark’s Haldor Topsoe. Construction of the plant is due to begin in mid-2006 with commissioning set to coincide with OMC’s methanol unit.

The Sohar scheme is one of two methanol projects planned in the sultanate. A 3,000-t/d plant is also planned in the Salalah Free Zone involving Oman Oil Company. Finalisation of the shareholding structure is awaited (MEED 30:9:05).