Duqm Port aims to kick off early phase container operations when a multipurpose feeder vessel begins calling at the maritime gateway sometime early next year, according to a key port executive. Erwin Mortelmans, Commercial Director — Port of Duqm Company, said the feeder service is proposed to be operated by wholly Omani government-owned Oman Shipping Company (OSC). The deployment of a multipurpose vessel will allow for the handling of not only containerized cargo, but other general cargo volumes as well, he noted.
“A lot of preparatory work has already been done by Oman Shipping in this regard, and I think we have come to a point that gives us hope to have (the service) up and running towards the beginning of next year. That’s the hope and plan! Now it’s time to give it a go,” said Mortelmans.
The vessel, he said, is expected to connect other local and regional ports, including Sohar, Salalah and Jebel Ali (UAE). Container freight volumes destined for Duqm are expected to be modest initially, but are projected to grow to a “few hundred TEUs on a weekly basis” within a reasonable amount of time, he said.
Much of the cargo bound for Duqm is expected to be ultimately destined for the oil and gas projects in various stages of development and operation in the oil field areas of Wusta Governorate. Some volumes however will be destined for projects and businesses setting up operations within and around the massive Special Economic Zone (SEZ) being developed around the port. And with a major refinery also in early stages of implementation at the SEZ, a rapid escalation in import volumes is anticipated over the next couple of years, he noted.
Early phase container operations will pave the way for the eventual rollout of full-fledged container operations once a dedicated terminal is established at the port. A terminal with a capacity of around 3.5 million TEU per annum is envisaged in the first phase of commercial operations.
Duqm Port’s long-term goal is to rank among the largest ports in the region with an ambition to handle 15-20 million TEU per annum — a target it hopes to achieve over the next 20-30 years.