The Sultanate is set to benefit immensely from the transit fees of the Middle East Gas Pipeline Project. The pipeline with international nodes will pass overland. The $4-billion project is expected to reaffirm the Sultanate’s role as an international logistics hub. The 24-inch (61cm) diameter pipeline will be almost 1,300km long with some part of it undersea and having a flow rating of 31.1 mmscmd. The pipeline will touch Ras Al Jalan in the Sultanate connecting Chabahar with Porbandar. The project will be a boost to the Sultanate’s steady rise in stature as an international logistics provider. Already, Duqm port is developing as a major global hub with several major international players investing billions of dollars for setting up facilities. Strategically located and with direct access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea, the port is a pivot on which the nation’s industrial future rests. The Special Economic Zone Duqm (Sezad) has been signing a flurry of international deals marking a resounding vote of confidence in the Sultanate’s economic wisdom. Oman Oil Company has signed a pact with Kuwait International Petroleum Company to construct the 7-million rial Duqm Refinery that will eventually process 230,000 barrels per day. Oman Oil has 50 per cent stake in the facility. The work on the project in a 900-hectare plot is progressing fast. While the project underscores Sezad’s place as an international logistics hub, it will also strengthen the efforts of the authorities to raise in-country value through the refining operations. The advantage of Duqm as an east-facing port with access to major shipping lanes is huge. Sezad has also tied up for a $265-million loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that would help the project meet the 2020 deadline.
The Sultanate’s economic decentralisation programme, has identified a set of thrust areas, including logistics, manufacturing and tourism. The rapid progress achieved by Sezad has a bearing on all the key sectors. Sezad is being developed as an international logistics hub because of its east-facing location, with access to global growth centres. The nation has made a strategically sound push to capitalise on the geographical premium that the nation enjoys. The whole of the Arabian Peninsula and North East Africa can easily access the shipping lanes of the Arabian Sea through Duqm. The Central Asia and Commonwealth of Independent States are also a couple of hours’ flight from Duqm. The port is important for the nation’s mining push for which new laws are being framed an implemented. The laws lay down the legal framework for investment in mining, bringing in world class technologies to exploit the wealth of the nation’s mineral rich mountains. The railway network proposed will link mineral-rich areas to key ports providing a boost to the economy. Fishery, which is also a thrust area under Tanfeedh, will also benefit from Sezad’s huge infrastructural programme. A recent visit of a delegation of Al Wusta branch of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry to Taiwan, showed that industrialists there were keen on investing in Sezad that is growing in exponential terms. Similar visits to different parts of the world will increase the world’s interest in the facility.