We study the use of nonlinear semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) for generating optical phase conjugate towards compensation of distortions in short distance optical fiber transmission due to Kerr nonlinearity and chromatic dispersion in coherent multi-carrier lightwave signals. We experimentally demonstrate the effectiveness of the SOA-based phase conjugator to improve the link budget with a 100 km standard single mode fiber link for 20 GHz coherent OFDM signals, with QPSK and 16QAM modulations and a corresponding net bit-rate of 40 Gbps and 80 Gbps respectively. Mid-span spectral inversion scheme is employed where the optical phase conjugate is generated through a partially degenerate four-wave mixing process in a nonlinear SOA. We demonstrate a bit error rate performance within $2\times 10^-2$ for an average launched power of up to 12 dBm (9 dBm) for QPSK (16QAM) coherent OFDM signals, in a 100 km fiber link. We also investigate the possible improvement in link budget using numerical simulation for 16QAM and 64QAM CO-OFDM signals with the proposed scheme. © 2013 IEEE.