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Alcan Mulls $3 Billion on Middle East Aluminum Smelter Projects

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Alcan Inc., the world's second- biggest aluminum producer, said it may invest $3 billion in new projects in the Middle East to increase production in countries that offer cheaper energy supplies.

The company, based in Montreal, is interested in taking equity stakes in facilities such as the 20 percent interest it has in the Sohar smelter in Oman, said Anik Michaud, a company spokeswoman. Alcan will look at projects across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, she said today from Montreal.

The company's interest in spending as much as $3 billion in the region was reported by Gulf News on Feb. 19, citing Michel Jacques, the head of Alcan's primary metal unit.

Alcan is boosting aluminum production in countries that offer cheaper sources of power, such as the Middle East, where abundant supplies of natural gas are available to run power plants. Electricity can account for about 30 percent of the cost of aluminum production. Alcan receives frequent approaches from potential partners interested in the company's AP series of smelting technology, Michaud said.

Alcan and partners including Oman Oil Company SAOC and the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority are constructing a smelter capable of producing 350,000 tons a year of aluminum in Sohar, Oman, by the third quarter of 2008. The construction of the smelter will cost about $1.7 billion.


Oman, the new favorite of the Gulf is calling upon Turkish investors.

Oman has limited petroleum stocks, but it has gravitated towards major infrastructure and natural gas projects by using the income it has obtained via increasing raw petroleum prices. Now, the country is presenting many opportunities for Turkish investors.

The Oman government, which is looking to make joint investments, declared tourism as one of the new sectors to develop and called upon Turkish investors to contribute. Oman's female Tourism Minister Rajiha bint Abdul Amir highlighted the importance of Turkish expertise in the sector. The companies making investments in this sector would be exempt from tax for five years, she said.

Oman provides many opportunities for Turkish contractors including projects such as infrastructure, new cities, airports and natural gas terminals.

Oman's Transportation Minister Sheikh Mohammed said that there are currently five airport terminal building projects in the country and called upon Turkish investors to join the tenders. Also among the sectors the country is looking to develop are sea transportation and air-cargo hauling.

So far, Turkish contractors' workload in Oman is worth $1.3 billion and the largest of the investments is ENKA's $933 million Blue City phase construction. Founded in 1957, with the partnership between Şarık Tara and the late Sadi Gülçelik, the essence of Enka today includes the construction of industrial plants, docks, marine slipways, shipyards, grain silos, bridges, roads and piers.

Turkish constructors also oversee the construction projects of a liquid cargo terminal, docks along with water transportation projects and road construction.


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