Record container and cargo volumes, as well as vessel movements, exemplified yet another year of unprecedented growth at the Port of Sohar during 2012. The robust performance, coming on the 10th anniversary of its establishment, underscores the industrial port’s increasing importance as a maritime gateway for international trade and commerce, as well as a powerful engine of economic growth.
The anniversary milestone was celebrated at the annual New Year’s reception hosted by Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC) at The Chedi Muscat on Tuesday, 22nd January 2013. His Excellency Sultan al Habsi, Chairman of the Board, was joined by top management officials of Port of Sohar and Freezone Sohar, at the event.
Also present were a number of high-level officials from the Ministry of Transport and Communications, CEOs of industrial and logistics firms operating at the port, as well as representatives of companies providing marine and other services. Top executives of shipping lines and agencies were in attendance as well.
In welcome remarks, Mr. Andre Toet, CEO of Port of Sohar, toasted the longstanding partnerships and collaborative spirit that fuel the port’s continuing success, both as a magnet for industrial investment and a hub for maritime trade.
“Today, we celebrate twin milestones: one, the start of a new year and the renewal of alliances, partnerships and cooperative ties; and two, perhaps more importantly, the completion of a decade of exemplary service to the nation as an industrial port and maritime gateway. With over $14 billion in industrial and infrastructure investment, and record growth in cargo throughput and vessel calls, Port of Sohar’s achievements in a mere 10 years are virtually without parallel anywhere in the maritime world,” Mr. Toet said.
Indeed, throughput levels have surged across all cargo types during 2012. Total cargo volumes handled by the port soared 51% to reach 43,936,193 freight registered tons (FRT) in 2012, from 29,134,240 FRT a year earlier. Growth in container traffic has been equally exception with the port handling 198,817 TEUs in 2012, up a hefty 83% from the previous year’s tally of 108,440 TEUs. Ro-Ro cargo, comprising mainly automotive imports, leapt 69% to 73,548 units in 2012, from 43,623 units in 2011. Dry bulk volumes also rose an impressive 78% to 26.115 million tons (mt) in 2012, buoyed largely by shipments of iron ore for Vale’s pelletising plant.
Also underscoring the port’s formidable performance during 2012, vessel traffic jumped 29% to 1,918 calls, against 1,487 vessel movements a year earlier. And as the port surpasses the 2,000-mark for shipping traffic sometime later year, it will underscore the extraordinary appeal of the gateway for international shipping and maritime traffic. Indeed, few other ports around the world have achieved this degree of growth in vessel movements within a decade of their establishment.
SIPC, Mr. Toet said, is optimistic about building on the port’s splendid 2012 performance by implementing a number of initiatives designed to boost operational efficiency, enhance productivity, and strengthen HSE standards across the industrial hub and free zone.
Also auguring well for a vigorous uptrend in the port’s overall performance in 2013 are a number of strategically significant infrastructure projects that will help drive business for SIPC as well as its growing stakeholder community, he said. Notable is the expansion of the capacity of Oman International Container Terminal (OICT) to cater to volumes created as a result of the proposed conversion of Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat into a tourism and maritime heritage port, and the consequent transfer of container and other cargo to Sohar.
During 2013, SIPC also plans to launch work on a string of landmark initiatives that will underpin the port’s continued growth over the long term. They include plans for a new Container Terminal, a reclamation scheme that will create new land for industrial development, dedicated agro-bulk terminal, new liquid jetty, a superior gate system for the port and free zone, and the further enhancement of marine services at anchorage.
In an interesting highlight to the evening, well-known Omani motivational speaker Nabil Al Busaidi, who earned international fame as the first Arab to trek to the North Pole in 2010, was invited to address the distinguished gathering as a guest speaker.
In his talk, Nabs, as he is affectionately known, drew a striking analogy between his daunting, yet groundbreaking, slog to the magnetic North Pole, on the one hand, and the formidable task before SIPC to transform a desolate waterfront into a bustling, world-class industrial hub, on the other. In the end, both triumphed only through a combination of commitment, perseverance and a passion to succeed, he noted.
Also on the occasion, the 2013 edition of ‘Port of Sohar & Freezone Sohar’ – an annual book charting the growth and development of these twin strategic ventures – was formally launched. His Excellency Dr Ibrahim Al Kindi, CEO of Oman Establishment for Press, Publication & Advertising (OEPPA), publishers of Oman Daily Observer and its sister Arabic daily, Oman, joined Mr. Toet in the unveiling of the publication.
‘Port of Sohar & Freezone Sohar’ is jointly produced by SIPC and OEPPA.
FZS, Eng. Jamal Aziz, CEO of Free Zone Sohar said, the infrastructure for most parts of the 1st phase of Free Zone plots are completed which is 5 km2 of the total area of about 45km2 . Also, more than 50% of the plots are allocated for the investment projects by more than OMR 150 million, he said.
Press Release, January 29, 2013