Saturday, April 25, 2015

Container Handling Facility Plans for 6 Million TEU Following Significant Investment

Middle Eastern Ocean Freight Options to be Expanded
Shipping News Feature

OMAN – Speaking at the GCC Supply Chain & Logistics Conference 2015 held in Muscat earlier this month, Hutchison Port Holdings Limited (HPH) Group Managing Director Eric Ip outlined his company’s vision for the Oman International Container Terminal (OICT) which sits inside the northern Port of Sohar, adjacent to the Straits of Hormuz in the Gulf of Oman, approximately 200 km from Muscat and 160 km from Dubai. OICT is a joint venture between HPH and the Government of the Sultanate of Oman, Steinweg of the Netherlands together with a number of other Omani investors and the facility is seemingly the subject of ambitious plans.

Development of OICT includes fast-tracking the development at Terminal C, plans for Terminal D and expansion of hinterland connections all with the aim of increasing OICT’s annual handling capacity by four times to six million TEU. The construction of Terminal D will synchronise with the overall development plan of Sohar Port and may start as early as 2018/19. Mr. Ip said:

“OICT is the gateway to Oman and HPH has achieved its mission to consolidate Muscat and Sohar cargo and to develop Sohar Port into a modern and efficient gateway port for the North Batinah region and the Sohar Free Zone. We are committed to Sohar Port and to the Sultanate of Oman. We will continue the development of facilities at the port to capture the growing trade activities in the Middle East and the potential to serve the latest class of 20,000 TEU mega-vessels. We are building for the future.”

HPH estimates to make a total investment of $303 million by 2019, including the $183.5 million that has already been invested in OICT as of the end of 2014. Additionally, OICT is taking advantage of the road and rail network that is being established in the Sultanate to cement its position as a key gateway for origin/destination cargo in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states. During his opening address at the conference His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Futaisi, the Minister of Transport and Communications said:

“I am pleased to note that the terminal productivity at Sohar for containers and general cargo now exceeds the previous performance that was achieved by Mena Sultan Qaboos. We are not resting at this level of performance and are targeting for higher port productivity.”