The First Duqm Economic Forum, which was presided by HH Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham Al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth recently showcased the game-changing potential of Duqm – as a vibrant global investment hub for renewable energy projects, green hydrogen, green iron, and other industries.
Organized by the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones & Free Zones (OPAZ), the two-day forum held in Crowne Plaza Hotel in Duqm explored the dynamic investment opportunities in Oman in general and Duqm in particular as it powers the possibilities of the green economy and accelerates the industry towards the opportunities of a tech-driven future.
In his address at the opening ceremony, HE Dr. Ali Masoud Al Sunaidi, Chairman of the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ) said, “The Duqm Economic Forum is primarily meant to showcase the game-changing potential of Duqm – as a vibrant investment hub for new methods of manufacturing promoting innovation.” Al Sunaidi further said that “this Game-changing shift towards promoting green manufacturing will bring about a wealth of opportunities for innovation and investment in the production, transmission, transport, storage and export of green energy.”
“There are great opportunities. Besides the already licensed green ammonia and green Hydrogen projects within the zone the government has allocated thousands of kilometres for renewables most of which are within Al Wusta Governorate, adjacent to the Duqm zone. It is very easy to connect to our Duqm liquid storages and export jetties at the Port of Duqm and Ras Markaz. The fully serviced land near the port with the gas station and the substation made it all possible for future steel and other metal manufacturers to plan for their projects to utilise gas and blue hydrogen and then to shift swiftly to the use of renewables and green hydrogen. Duqm by its comparative advantages and its upgraded master plan provides much of the flexibility needed for such projects of the future.”
HE Qais Mohammed Al Yousef, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion said that the forum underscores the importance of Special Economic Zone in Duqm as a comprehensive and attractive zone for major industries. SEZAD, he added, is the largest economic zone in the Middle East and it contains various areas designated for heavy, medium and light industries, among other areas. In line with the Sultanate of Oman’s goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050, an area has been designated for the production of hydrogen and green industries in SEZAD, he added.
Al Yousef added that a 10.5 per cent growth was registered in the inflow of direct foreign investments to the Sultanate of Oman, which led to total direct foreign investments reach RO19.5bn by the end of 2022. This is driven by growth of businesses in several sectors, namely oil and gas, industry, real estate and tourism, etc.
Eng. Salim Nasser Al Aufi, Minister of Energy and Minerals said the Duqm Refinery will be officially inaugurated next year. The project will attract several projects related to refinery products.
Meanwhile, several investment agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed in the green industries sector, within the framework of Duqm Economic Forum. The signing of these agreements and memoranda will contribute to enhancing the zone’s pioneering role in attracting green industry projects.
An agreement was signed between OPAZ and an Omani-Saudi coalition comprising Strabag Oman and Alrosan Company. The agreement is for the implementation of a dual-carriageway project from Duqm Airport to Ras Markaz (51 kilometres) to the tune of RO57.6mn. The project is expected to be completed on the second half of 2025. Further, another usufruct agreement was signed with HYPORT Duqm. As per this usufruct agreement, a 150 square kilometres land plot in SEZAD will be allocated for the establishment of a green energy plant (250 – 500 megawatts). The energy will be produced through solar power and wind power, to be then transformed to hydrogen derivatives, such as ammonia. OPAZ signed an MoU with Shell Oman in the field of localising a green and blue hydrogen project (undertaken by Shell Oman) and getting rid of carbon emissions. OPAZ also signed an MoU with BP Oman to establish a factory for the production of green hydrogen dedicates in SEZAD. BP Oman aims to produce 3.3 gigawatts of electricity and to establish an ammonia factory which produces 150,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually.
Further, the authority signed an MoU with the Posco-Engie coalition. As per this MoU, a land plot will be designated in SEZAD for the establishment of a factory of green ammonia and green hydrogen derivatives in the downstream section, with an annual capacity of 1.2 tonnes. Furthermore, three agreements were signed in relation to the Vulcan Green project of Jindal Steel. The agreements aim to establish a green steel project in the industrial zone of Duqm Port, with a targeted production capacity of 5 million tonnes annually of green steel.
The forum also highlighted opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with scopes for SMEs signing a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding. Prominent projects in the zone include Duqm Refinery, Ras Markaz Oil Storage Terminal, the Dry Dock for ship repair, the Integrated Power and Water Station and many projects in industrial, tourism, commercial, real estate development, transportation and logistics sectors. The zone also boasts an integrated network of logistic facilities that include Duqm Airport, Duqm Port and a multi-purpose fishing port.
Panel sessions at the two-day business event reflected SEZAD’s role as an economic change leader and industrial powerhouse. Focusing on the future, the Duqm Dialogues gave insights into the innovation, technology, and talent that energize SEZAD’s ambitions and fuels its success.
The first panel session dwelt on Duqm Renewables Powering Industry. Duqm’s green hydrogen presents heavy industry with a viable solution to significantly decarbonize and propel their manufacturing towards a more sustainable industrial future. Leading global companies shared how they intend to use groundbreaking technology and harness Duqm’s renewable energy to power their operations and help them achieve their sustainability goals. The second panel deliberated on Duqm’s Green Energy Advantage. Addressing climate change is a core component of Oman Vision 2040 and with Oman’s National Energy Strategy, the country has embarked on a number of high-profile renewable energy projects amongst them the world’s largest solar plant for desalination, the first large-scale wind farm in the GCC and the export-oriented HYPORT Duqm – a proposed 500MW green hydrogen and ammonia plant on the Special Economic Zone in Duqm with the potential to position Oman as a world-scale producer and exporter of zero-carbon fuels to international markets. The session turned the spotlight on green energy companies setting up in Duqm, the infrastructure and expertise that supports them, the demand and consumer trends that drive them and the opportunities that will power their success. The third panel discussed Duqm’s Downstream Green Pull. Capitalising on the immense renewable energy potential of Duqm, the Special Economic Zone is supporting the development of a large-scale green steel industry cluster. The operations and products of these manufacturing giants, along with Duqm’s proximity to a rich supply of industrial minerals, is set to create a wealth of downstream opportunities, attracting multinationals and SMEs alike to set up on the Special Economic Zone. Focusing in particular on the potential for automotive, pharmaceutical, construction and fertilizer industries as well as makers of solar panels and wind turbines, the panel looked at the incentives and infrastructure to support the development of operations by manufacturers, consumer-driven industrial trends, access to markets, new industrial clusters, innovation and collaboration possibilities, talent attraction and job creation.
The fourth panel session discussed the Opportunity in Supply Chain. The panel navigated the exciting opportunities ahead for SEZAD-based transport, maritime and cargo companies as well as the industrial giants using Port of Duqm’s services and infrastructure. It looked at the network of factors driving the success of Port of Duqm and giving it a distinct competitive advantage. The fifth panel session was on a New Era for Petrochemicals. The panel reviewed the sizeable investments made in the Duqm Refinery project and the Markaz Crude Oil Storage Terminal – the largest oil storage and export project in the Middle East – and the opportunities this presents to petrochemical manufacturers targeting growing markets linked to the green energy transition, clean technologies, mobility, construction, durable goods, healthcare and packaging.
At the concluding day ceremony, Eng. Ahmed Hassan Al Dheeb, Deputy Chairman of the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ) said that the forum showcased the rich opportunities of Duqm Refinery project and the Raz Markaz Crude Oil Storage Terminal – the largest oil storage in the Middle East – as the petrochemicals industry moves forward with its new business models.
“The Forum has been a significant platform for sharing the game- changing potential of SEZAD as it brings to life the ambitions of Oman Vision 2040, the dynamic strategy for development and growth that underpins the renewed Renaissance we are experiencing under the enlightened leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik.”
“Our two Duqm Dialogues showed clearly the innovative spirit and inspirational ambition of Oman’s young entrepreneurs.” Al Dheeb further said that that the forum demonstrated how Duqm is leading change in green industry. It has provided a window on the rich possibilities of SEZAD, its exceptional appeal as an investment destination and its outstanding competitive offer, which is based on sustainable growth and a bold innovative spirit, Al Dheeb said.
HE Eng. Khamis Mohammed Al Shamakhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology for Transport, said that SEZAD is an enabler towards achieving the Sultanate’s approaches, such as the Logistics Strategy, reaching net zero emissions by 2050, and Oman Vision 2040, as well as developing hydrogen and green energy projects.
Meanwhile, HH Sayyid Dr. Adham Turki Al Said pointed out that the forum is a reflection of the potential for economic development in SEZAD. Of significant interest to attendees were discussions on the wealth of possibilities offered by the Duqm Refinery project and the Markaz Crude Oil Storage Terminal – the largest oil storage and export project in the Middle East – as the petrochemicals industry moves forward with its new business models. This was followed by a visit to the state-of-the-art facilities and a tour of key areas of interest on SEZAD. The forum attracted over 400 participants and was sponsored by 17 leading domestic and international organisations.