Oman may Sell German Arm OQ Chemicals

24.09.2021 - Oman’s state-owned energy company OQ is said to be weighing a sale of its Monheim, Germany-based chemicals subsidiary, oxo intermediates and oxo derivatives producer OQ Chemicals. Sources told the Bloomberg news agency that the sultanate is seeking ways to stabilize its finances and is speaking with potential advisers as it explores options for the s business believed to be worth about $3 billion.

Headquartered at Oberhausen, the chemical producer once part of the Hoechst chemical conglomerate was merged into Oman’s petrochemicals holdings when the sultanate bought it in 2013 from private equity investor Advent International for just over $2.1 billion.

 With a portfolio spanning the production chain for hydrocarbons, from exploration and production to marketing and distribution, the company employs more than 1,400 people across sites in Germany, China, the Netherlands and the US.

For 2021, OQ Chemicals said it planned to increase overall output capability by more than 30%. Projects were to include new production capacity for TCD alcohol as well as the company’s sixth world-scale plant for carboxylic acids at Oberhausen.

This past spring, the OQ group and OQ Chemicals signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with German PMMA specialist Röhm (currently owned by Advent International) to build a 250,000 t/y plant for the acrylic polymer, using Röhm’s proprietary “LiMA” (Leading in Methacrylates) technology at OQ’s US site in Bay City, Texas. Start-up was pencilled in for 2023.

Energy assets rolled into one large group

In early 2021, Oman rolled all of its energy business into one large company under the OQ umbrella. The list included Oman Oil (OOC) and Oman Refineries and Petroleum Industries in addition to OOC's upstream arm OOCEP, Oman Gas (OGC), Duqm Refinery and Petrochemicals Industries (DRPIC), Salalah Methanol (SMC), Oman Trading International (OTI) and Salalah Liquified Petroleum Gas.

Under Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq, who came to power last year, Bloomberg’s sources said Oman has been seeking to use its energy assets to raise money and lower a budget deficit that soared as the Covid-19 pandemic battered oil prices and tourism. The news agency was told in April this year that at least one of the energy group’s assets might be put up for sale.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist