Dubai: Oman-based Octal Holding has invested $300 million in a petrochemical plant in the Salalah Free Zone that, officials say, will increase Oman's export to the US five-fold.

Worldwide sales of amorphous polyethylene tere-phthalate (APET), were approximately $2.25 billion in 2006, mostly in the US and Europe.

Octal, which started operations at Salalah Free Zone in December 2006, plans to become the world's largest producer of APET sheet packaging, with 20 per cent market share, and the Middle East's largest producer of PET resins.

Nicholas Barakat, managing director of Octal Holding, said: "By mid 2008, Octal will have sales of $500 million per annum, and with a strong equity base we're in position to expand as needed."

Octal's parent company Chemlink Capital Ltd and Pound Capital Ltd, both US-based private investment firms specialising in downstream petrochemical projects, have provided the initial funding along with institutional and individual investors in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Octal entered the market with 20,000 metric tonnes of capacity and an additional 10,000 metric tonnes per year has come on stream this month. A new twin PET resin and APET sheet complex will provide a further 300,000 metric tonnes of APET sheet-making capacity from April next year.

At that stage, Octal will be five times larger than the next producer of APET sheet and the largest PET manufacturer in the Middle East. It will represent nearly 20 per cent of the total industry output of APET sheet.

The first plant to go up in Salalah Free Zone, Octal's APET facility has a built-up area of 4,000 square metres, and that will grow to 135,000 square metres when the integrated PET resin and APET sheet complex comes on stream next year.