Bids for the first phase of an ambitious crude oil storage park at Ras Markaz on Oman’s southeastern coast are due in next month, according to a key official associated with the giant scheme. Oman Tank Terminal Company (OTTCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of Oman Oil Company (OOC), the government’s energy and strategic investment arm, is developing the world-scale storage terminal as an integral part of the nearby Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Phase 1 of the strategic facility, envisaging the development of around 20 million barrels of crude storage capacity plus associated infrastructure, is currently under tender.
“The prequalified Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) bidders are busy putting their bids together,” said Said al Maawali (pictured), Project Director — OTTCO. “We expect to receive both the commercial and technical bids by mid-May,” he added in remarks to an audience of industry executives at last week’s Oman Downstream Exhibition & Conference, which was held at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Earlier, Al Maawali underlined the strategic benefits accruing to the Omani economy from the establishment of a mammoth crude storage terminal at Ras Markaz, which at full build will offer a capacity of 200 million barrels.
The petroleum storage business in the Sultanate, the Project Director said, has been unfortunately “under-exploited” thus far. Given the nation’s strategic position within proximity of important shipping routes, particularly in relation to two of the world’s most important chokepoints for oil flows — the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Arabian Gulf and Bab al Mandeb Strait at the entrance to the Red Sea — the Sultanate enjoys a “very unique” location, he said.
“This is something we can capitalise on, whether it’s for the benefit of local producers of Oman, regional producers, national oil companies or oil majors, (Ras Markaz) offers easy and safe access to shipping routes that will keep oil flowing to the end users,” Al Maawali said. “The potential is huge for the country in general, as well as for oil logistics, which has been under-exploited.”
Ras Markaz, and the Duqm area in particular, are endowed with unique natural characteristics that make it ideal for the establishment of a major crude storage terminal, said the Project Director. “We enjoy a lot of good natural depth. There aren’t many places on Earth where the water depth allows for VLCCs and ULCCs to be accommodated within three kilometres of the shoreline. That in itself makes for a competitive project compared to other locations in the world.”
Similarly, Ras Markaz is located with easy sailing distance of some of the fastest growing economies, including some where oil consumption is projected to grow the fastest, he said, citing India in particularly, which is just 2 — 4 days sailing time away.