Work to start on new $170m Sohar Port terminal
Construction of a new agricultural bulk handling terminal at Oman’s Sohar Port is expected to also have a positive impact on the port’s petrochemical industries and downstream plastics manufacturers once work is completed.
Work is expected to start on the $170 million agricultural terminal in March and once operational, the terminal will handle 700,000 tonnes of grain and 1.5 million tonnes of raw sugar imports annually.
Port executive commercial manager Edwin Lammers said this will place a demand on the packaging industry, which is already starting to show a keen interest in developing facilities on site.
“Our aim is to attract new investment in food and food processing industries and create a cluster than can feed the region. Grain silos and a sugar refinery are already in the pipeline, and as this sector grows, the opportunities for packaging companies to serve multinational businesses will grow,” he commented.
“We are pleased to see the response that we have had to the news that more than 1.5 million tonnes of environmentally-friendly packaging materials will soon be produced at SOHAR, led by Oman International Petrochemical Industry Company. This will centre on production of PET typically used in the manufacturing of single-serve beverage and soft drink bottles,” he added.
In addition, the Liwa Plastics Project will provide polyethylene and polypropylene to packaging companies interested in setting up operations at SOHAR. This $3.6 billion steam cracker project is being developed at SOHAR by Oman Oil Refineries & Petroleum Industries and will be integrated with the existing refinery, aromatics plant, and polypropylene plant.
But packaging is not the only option, according to Lammers: “The link between food and plastics is clear. The global packaging industry will generate $975 billion in sales by 2018, and 60 percent of that will be created in the food industry.
"Thirty percent of packaging is made from plastics, and 90 percent of the region’s foodstuffs are imported. Much of this is pre-packaged elsewhere at a higher cost and our aim is to leverage our low-cost energy resources to reduce that cost.
“However, packaging is not the only option available to potential investors. High density polyethylene and PET can be extruded for use in large-scale water and other types of piping, for example. This bodes well for the region’s construction industry, though we do not envision SOHAR being able to supply this industry just yet. Nevertheless, all of the plastics that will be produced at the port remain extremely versatile.”