Sultan Qabus inaugurated Saturday a 2.5 billion dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) complex, a major boost to the Gulf state's economy, the ONA news agency reported.
The complex, at Qalhat, Sour province, 230 kilomtres (140 miles) south of the capital, is intended "to diversify sources of revenue for the sultanate and to develop the national economy," the agency said.
The project, begun by US firm Foster Wheeler in 1996, was on a "global scale," it said.
The firm was officially handed over to Oman LNG on Saturday.
Oil ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as Oman attended the ceremony. Oman is set to launch LNG exports to Japan in November, shipping 600,000 tonnes per annum under a 25-year contract.
The sultanate's LNG exports, which started in April, should reach a level of 37 cargoes this year, 81 in 2001 and a full capacity of 90 cargoes the following year. Osaka Gas Company of Japan is one of three long-term clients.
Exports to India's Dabhol Power Company under are due to begin next year, he said, adding that exports of spot cargoes have already started to customers in the United States and Spain.
Oman LNG is expected to break even this year and pay dividends from 2001, the chief executive said.
A first export cargo of 135,000 cubic metres (4.725 million cubic feet), bound for the Korea Gas Corporation (Kogas), was loaded at the Gulf terminal of Qalhat on April 6.
Oman LNG signed a sales and purchase agreement (SPA) with Kogas in October 1996 to supply 4.1 million tonnes per annum for 25 years. Qalhat's production capacity is put at 6.6 million tonnes a year.
The government owns 51 percent of Oman LNG, the Anglo-Dutch giant Royal Dutch Shell holds 30 percent, TotalFinaElf 5.54 percent, Korea LNG five percent, Partex of Portugal two percent, and Japan's Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Itochu the rest. – (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )