Oman Gas Company has started work on laying a 221-km-long pipeline between Saih Nihyada and Duqm regions of Oman for the transportation of natural gas, said a report.
The construction contract has been awarded to an Egyptian company, said a senior official.
The free zone has attracted some $11 billion in investment for various projects, which include a major refinery and a series of industrial ventures by Chinese investors, stated Lee Chee Khian, the chief executive of Oman's Special Economic Zone Authority Duqm (Sezad).
The key projects, which are in different stages of planning and implementation, include the 230,000 barrels per day (bpd)-capacity refinery, a methanol-to-olefin project, a coal-fired power project, an automobile unit, a project for manufacturing solar panels, a five-star hotel, a desalination plant and a sabacic acid unit.
Sezad's efforts to attract investment into the zone have been successful, the official said, adding that the authority is looking at some more projects, including one by a pharmaceutical company from India.
"At a later stage, we will have a high-end electronic industry (in Duqm). We are in discussion with a medical devices firm (in India). A few Indian companies are also interested in setting up pharmaceutical projects in Duqm," he added.
Other projects (especially by Chinese investors) are in the pipeline and agreements have yet to be signed for these ventures, stated Khian.
He pointed out that additional investment in Duqm would depend upon the availability of natural gas in the special economic zone.
“Investors cannot commit billions of dollars without an assurance of natural gas,” remarked Khian.
"If the price of natural gas is high, no one will come. It has to be on par with international prices (to make the projects feasible)," he said.
"The natural gas production in Oman will get a boost once BP starts production from its Khazzan tight gas project, which is expected to add 1 billion cu ft of gas per day, starting by the end of the year," he added.
Meanwhile, Khian said the levelling work and internal road construction at the China-Oman Industrial Park in Duqm have already begun. The conceptual design of the industrial park is also progressing, he added.