15 years of growth: Hutchison Ports Sohar elevates trade in Oman

Business Tuesday 30/November/2021 16:49 PM
By: Times News Service
15 years of growth: Hutchison Ports Sohar elevates trade in Oman

Muscat: This year marks a very special anniversary for Hutchison Ports Sohar as we mark a decade and a half of operations in Oman. Hutchison Ports Sohar has come a long way from its humble beginnings when in 2006 we only handled a few thousand boxes. Fast forward to today and this year we celebrated the remarkable milestone of our 6 millionth TEU. Here we take a brief look at the journey of the past 15 years, the achievements which were made possible through ongoing investment, and a glimpse of what lies ahead for Hutchison Ports Sohar.

We take great pride in supporting the ambitious program Oman Vision 2040 which was established to elevate Oman’s logistics industry and diversify the country’s economy. It is exciting to see the vision of the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said take shape, and we are grateful to have the leadership and direction of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik as Sohar increasingly becomes a maritime hub for the Middle East.

Hutchison Ports Sohar was established in 2006 as a joint venture between CK Hutchison’s Hutchison Ports, Asyad Group and other strategic investors, who have always been committed to ensuring that the terminal could reach its full potential. As Oman adopted development policies to spur trade and economic development, Hutchison Ports Sohar continues to invest in the latest equipment and IT solutions. The aim is to progressively increase the terminal’s capacity ahead of the burgeoning demand while also expanding the range of value-added services at the port.

Foundation for tomorrow
Reflecting on the anniversary, Andy Tsoi, Managing Director of Hutchison Ports MEA Division commented, “As a large, greenfield development, there were many unknowns and many hurdles to overcome. We were very pleased to have the support of the Hutchison Ports group, solid commitments from our valuable carrier partners and most importantly our strong workforce. Looking ahead, we are striving to continue to engage our young workforce to ensure that we build a strong pipeline of future talent for the port and the overall industry in Oman.”  

From the outset, the vision of Sohar Port and the broader economic zone leveraged the advantageous location of Sohar: strategically outside the Strait of Hormuz, on the key trade routes serving the region, and at the midpoint between commercial centres of Muscat and Dubai. This ideal location gives the port the ability to facilitate trade in and out of Oman, as well as transhipment in the region. In fact, located in one of the most dynamic regions, the port is within reach of two billion consumers.

Mega vessel ready

As a specialised container handling facility, Hutchison Ports Sohar is ready to serve the industry’s increasingly large mega vessels. In addition to adopting international best practices and cultivating a strong culture of innovation and ongoing improvement, the terminal has been outfitted with the latest container handling equipment.
13 quay cranes, eight of which have remote control and an outreach of 24 rows.
41 rubber-tyred gantry cranes, eight of which are hybrid with remote control.

The state-of-the-art equipment has enhanced the safety and working conditions of our team, contributed to our sustainability goals and boosted the terminal’s capacity to 2.4 million TEU. And as a data-intensive industry, Hutchison Ports Sohar has also adopted a wide range of IT solutions to minimise vessel and truck turnaround times and to create true value for users of the port.

Looking ahead, we are also laying the figurative groundwork to launch autonomous truck technology in 2022. Another key technology we see great promise in is 5G telecommunications for an efficient and optimised port community system. Hutchison Ports Sohar has been working closely with Omantel and Huawei to study and formulate commercially viable 5G solutions at the terminal.

Maximising potential
As we look to the future, efforts to attract additional direct calls continue in earnest. By increasing the connectivity of the port, the local business can effectively extend their reach into international markets, and by operating a common-user facility, traders in Oman enjoy a wealth of shipping options. Indeed, Hutchison Ports Sohar currently boasts a customer profile covering over 100 clients including all global shipping lines, regional feeders, NVOCCs and shipping agents. This patronage means a great deal to us.  

Commenting on the occasion, Anacin Kum, Chief Executive Officer of Hutchison Ports Sohar said, “I am glad to be a part of Hutchison Ports Sohar’s growth for the past few years. This place and its people have tremendous potential which is being proven by new challenges each passing day. Now is the right moment for us all to renew the pledge to further strengthen our position in Oman and the Middle East. The coming years will require further innovation, dedication, efficient customer service, but above all, mutually beneficial business relationships with shipping lines and end-users alike. We have empowered our employees which allow customers and shareholders to place their faith and trust in us – and we are committed to continuing strengthening this bond.”

The future is green
Hutchison Ports Sohar also understands that its ongoing success needs to be sustainable and that the company needs to be fully engaged with the local community. With this in mind, we have actively identified a range of Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance initiatives. Earlier we carefully reviewed our energy use, replacing traditional lights with power-efficient LED and using intelligent environmentally friendly technologies wherever possible. In less than half a year, we managed to reduce energy consumption by 28 per cent and these efforts will continue.

While it is important to protect the environment for future generations, it is also important to give the future generations the knowledge and skillsets needed to succeed. In this regard, we are also committed to working with local Omani schools. Through a range of programs, we open the doors of the port to the youth to show them the far-reaching benefits of international trade from Oman and the potential career paths available in the broader industry. With a regular intake of interns, some of whom successfully turn into full-time employees; our Omanisation rate is at an all-time high of 84 per cent.

Finally, as we look into the future, we would like to thank all those who have supported the growth of Hutchison Ports Sohar over the past 15 years. The future of the port offers great potential, so we look forward to continuing our existing partnerships and establishing new ones in the years to come.