Oman on track for record year with construction contract awards

Oman’s construction sector is set for a record-breaking year, with the value of projects already awarded currently at US$11 billion, according to Meed Projects.

The online project tracking service said that this year’s total looks set to break last year’s record figure of $14.8bn.

It argued that the pace has been set by major projects in the oil and gas and energy markets, including several new deals at BP’s $14bn Khazzan gas project, the $900 million Yibal Khuff sour gas development and the $600m Miraah solar plant.


Projects still due to be awarded during the year include the first phase of the Oman Rail project, which is expected to be worth more than $1bn and four multibillion dollar packages on the massive new Liwa plastics refinery due to be built by Oman Oil Refineries and Petrochemicals Industries (Orpic) at Sohar Port and Industrial Zone.

“Whether Oman beats last year’s record for contract awards will largely depend on the award of a handful of major contracts by the end of 2015,” said the Meed Projects director Ed James. “However, with most of them at an advanced stage of tender evaluation, we are hopeful that awards will be made soon.”

Others are not so sure. Simon Karam, the founder of Sarooj Construction, said “there is definitely a slowdown” in project awards this year.

“What has been awarded are projects that were very well advanced where a preferred bidder was nominated and was waiting to get his order to start. Very few new contracts have been awarded,” he said.

Mr Karam argued that ongoing projects have not been affected but new project awards were not being made at the same pace as before, which he blamed on the declining oil price.

“We’re bound to feel the pinch because of the price of oil. We still rely a lot on oil,” he said.

“Having said this, there’s quite a lot of projects that are PPP such as power stations [and] water desalination plants where the financing comes from abroad or is shared with the government. These projects are proceeding. Other projects on the oil and gas [side] are proceeding as well because there it is vital that the expenditure continues.”

Meed is hosting an Oman Projects Forum on October 26-28.

mfahy@thenational.ae

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