Muscat: Sohar Port and Freezone, which continues to play a central role in developing Oman as logistical powerhouse for the region, said its container volumes at the port increased by more than 11 per cent in the third quarter of 2016, compared to the similar period in 2015.
The newly rebranded Hutchison Ports Sohar, formerly OICT, part of the Hong Kong-based group that operates the Omani container terminal, recently celebrated the official opening of Terminal C. The new, automated terminal features remote-controlled quayside cranes equipped to handle the next generation of 20,000 TEU container vessels.
Overall tonnage at the port increased by more than 6 per cent in the third quarter of 2016, compared to the same period last year, at over 13.4 million metric tonnes; or an average of over one million tonnes of cargo throughput each week.
Despite the trend towards larger cargo ships, vessel movements at the Port were also up by 4 per cent, compared to the same period of last year, with over 670 ships calling at Sohar between July and September 2016.
Oman continues to invest heavily in economic diversification beyond its traditional petrochemical base despite currently low oil revenues.
According to Frost & Sullivan, a Californian market research consultancy, the logistics industry in Oman is predicted to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.9 per cent between 2016 and 2020. Plans are well advanced for container Terminal D at Sohar, a fully automated facility that will quadruple the Port’s current capacity to 6 million TEU annually.
“The introduction of containers from the mid-1950s, dramatically reducedshipping costs and became a major factor in globalisation; sixty years later, there is no end in sight to the success of containerisation in our industry. Our efforts today are focused on making containers smarter and even more efficient, by equipping them with tracking devices and sensors so we know not only where they are in the world, but also the condition of each cargo,” said Mark Geilenkirchen, the chief executive officer of Sohar Port.
Sohar has seen phenomenal growth since it received its first vessel in 2004, and just last week was awarded Port of the Year Award 2016 by The Maritime Standards in Dubai, beating off tough competition from some of the region’s most prominent and longer established ports.
Sohar Freezone recently announced that it had won the prestigious fDi Magazine Free Zones of the Year Award for New Investments. fDi Magazine is part of the UK’s Financial Times Group and Sohar was the only winner in this category in the Middle East region
“Our prime position at Sohar with a fast growing hub Port outside the Strait of Hormuz, and an adjacent, customer-friendly and optimally connected Freezone, is one of the biggest keys to our success. We look forward to more growth in the months ahead,” said Jamal T. Aziz, chief executive officer of Sohar Freezone.