Interview: Fujairah Terminals’ Expansion Moves Ahead

In 2017, UAE-based port developer and operator Abu Dhabi Ports signed a 35-year concession agreement with the Port of Fujairah, under which Fujairah Terminals, a new operational arm of Abu Dhabi Ports was established, with over AED 1 billion earmarked for infrastructural investment.

Ahmed Al Mutawa, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fujairah Terminals

Commercial operations at Fujairah Terminals were officially kick-started in September 2017 as activities were ramping up to launch the expansion project the following year.

The Port of Fujairah is the only multi-purpose port on the East Coast of the UAE, a major bunkering and energy hub, as well as a major port for crew changes.

Over the past decade, the port has tripled its berths to nine and increased shipping traffic more than eight-fold, with the port handling 4,695 vessels in 2018, including vessels handled by Fujairah Terminals; oil terminals, bunkering, supply boats, container, cruise and general cargo, data from Abu Dhabi Ports shows.

Over a year and a half since the establishment of the new company, our sister site World Maritime News spoke with Ahmed Al Mutawa, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fujairah Terminals, on the progress made so far with expansion plans at the port, which remained operational during construction work.

“Abu Dhabi Ports realized a significant growth opportunity to leverage the Port of Fujairah’s location and improve its capacity and facilities, creating a new gateway to the UAE that boosts connectivity to India, Africa and Asia. Over the past two decades, the port has become the world’s second largest bunkering hub due to its world-class terminal and storage facilities. Additionally, Fujairah Port is the only multi-purpose port on the Eastern seaboard of the UAE, strategically located on the country’s Indian Ocean coast, close to the east-west shipping routes,” Mr. Al Mutawa said commenting on Abu Dhabi Ports’ motivation and strategy behind the investment in the Port of Fujairah.

“We’re transforming the port through an AED 1 billion ($272 million) investment program in infrastructure and superstructure. By developing world-class infrastructure such as this we are facilitating global trade and attracting foreign direct investment, in line with the vision of UAE’s leadership to create a strong, diversified economy.”

“We look forward to tapping into business opportunities from the Red Sea, East Africa and several neighboring countries through our long-term investment plans.”

“We see significant growth opportunities and plan to boost transhipment for vital sectors like steel, spare parts, food and polymers. The port directly serves the entire Arabian Gulf region and the Indian subcontinent, which represent our key target markets,” he added.

The company’s development master plan includes deepening of berths to allow large vessels to come to the port, as well as increasing the entrance of the channel. So far, the port has been able to accommodate containerships of up to 5,500 TEU.

Activities on constructing the berths, yards and the marine side were launched in 2018, and the development is taking place in two phases, with the completion deadline set for the mid of 2020.

Once phase one is completed, the port will have a capacity of 350,000 TEU per year and 400,000 tons of general cargo. The port will also be able to accommodate Marco Polo-class vessels of up to 9,000 TEU, doubling the size of the largest vessels that can currently call at the port.

We are working to complete phase two of the expansion project by 2020 and we are smoothly implementing our masterplan with the support of various government entities and authorities, including the Fujairah Port Authority,” said Mr. Al Mutawa.

“We have worked with the Fujairah Port Authority on an extensive research, including economic and environmental studies to implement the best means to enhance the capacity of Fujairah Terminals.”

“Whilst the berth is designed and is being built for 18-meter draft, further dredging as well as increased entrance channel will be addressed in our future development plans, driven by the strategical volumes growth,” he pointed out.

The company expects the capacity to reach 1 million TEUs and 700,000 tons of general cargo by 2030.

Commenting on investing in berths for even larger ships in line with increasing vessel sizes of up to 21,000+ TEU, Al Mutawa noted that further investment in berth capacity, driven by volumes growth is part of the company’s long-term strategy.

In the short run, and to help benchmark against international standards, the company plans to install equipment, such as STS Post-Panamax quay cranes and e-RTGs, to increase operational efficiencies to meet the needs of global shipping companies and service operators.