MEED Oman Project Forum told Sohar Port & Free Zone to expand

Al Bustan Palace, Oman. 28 October 2014. Sohar Port & Free Zone is preparing to deal with rising demand, new industrial investments and the construction of the Oman Railway Company (ORC) project, the MEED Oman Projects Forum was told this afternoon.

The port is handling 44 million tonnes a year of cargo compared with 4.4 million tonnes in 2007, Port of Sohar & Free Zone executive commercial manager Edwin Lammers said. The port is expected to handle 600,000 TEUs in 2014 and is working to lift this figure to 1 million. Its capacity is 1.5 million containers.

Lammers said projects planned in Sohar include:

A strategic grain and sugar storage facility. This is planned to be built on land that has been transferred from the container terminal. It will comprise a complex of silos, a flour mill and bulk grain-handling facilities. It is also expected to serve as a hub for trading in grain commodities for the first time in the Sultanate. The project will have initial capacity to store 200,000 tonnes with the ultimate 300,000 capacity tonnes of grain and sugar. The client is the Public Authority for Strategic Food Reserves

Land reclamation for a new petrochemical project. Plans depend upon final government approval of the proposed and unnamed scheme, Lammers said. “We hope in the coming two months that we can start work on reclamation,” Lammers said.

A railway logistics and service centre. This is designed to support the proposed marshalling yard between the Sohar industrial estate and the free zone that is part of the ORC project.

Lammers said the majority of the free zone’s  5 million square metres has been leased. He said that masterplanning has started for an extension of the zone.

Lammers said the start of services at Sohar airport will allow the development of sea-cargo services. Work on the airport, which is designed to accommodate 500,000 passengers plus cargo, is due for completion in 2016.

“We are in a good position to deal with sea-to-air cargo, perishables and high-value goods including foodstuffs” Lammers said.

Lammers said that Sohar port is adjusting to the transfer of shipping and warehousing from Port Sultan Qaboos which stopped most commercial operations in at the end of August. The consolidation of services once split between Sohar and the port will create a new opportunity. “With the move of cargo from Muscat to Sohar, we can move into direct sailing,” he said.

All commercial containers, Ro-Ro, break bulk cargo and material handing vessels have transferred to Sohar. The conference was told yesterday that a proposed masterplan for redeveloping the Port Sultan Qaboos areas will involve investment of RO 1.2bn-1.4bn ($3.2bn-3.8bn) and take up to 12 years to complet.

Lammers said that $15bn has been invested in Sohar Port and its supporting industrial zone since the project was approved in 2002.


Sponsors of MEED Oman Projects Forum

Oman Development Bank is SME financial partner. AECOM is bronze sponsor. Drake & Scull International and Hill International are conference sponsors. Al Madina Insurance, Acciona and EHAF are exhibiting. Rotary Engineering is lanyard sponsor. Networking sponsors are Galfar and Sarooj.