The chief executive officer of Sohar Aluminium (Sohar) has said he believes allocating gas to enable a smelter expansion at the company’s facility would give Oman’s government the best return on its investment of the natural resource.

Speaking at the MEED Middle East Aluminium 2010 conference in Dubai, Bruce Hall stressed said no negotiations have taken place between Sohar and the government and he was just ‘throwing his company’s hat in the ring’ in regards to a share of future gas supplies.  

“In the event that a tranche of gas becomes available, we [Sohar] are going to be in there pitching to have it allocated to a smelter expansion because we believe that is the best value-add opportunity for the Omani government to take advantage of that natural resource,” Hall says.

If Sohar is successful, the aluminium smelter expansion would see the facility increase its capacity to 800,000 tonnes-a-year (t/y) from the 360,000 t/y it is currently producing. Hall gave no timeframe of a possible phase II expansion, but he says Sohar is ready to take the next step.  

“We [Sohar] have demonstrated that we can build a plant and start it up,” Hall says. “The challenge for us now is to prove that our good operating results are not just a flash in the pan. We need to sustain those results and improve them.”  

Sources in Oman have indicated that additional gas availability could be declared in the sultanate in late 2010 or early 2011.