Oxford Business Group: Oman maritime on the rise

New investments by maritime services at the Port of Duqm.
The Port of Duqm in Oman
The Port of Duqm in Oman

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According to an economic update published by the Oxford Business Group, new investments by maritime services firms based in the Port of Duqm could help Oman boost its credentials as a shipping and trade centre.

In early July, Oman Oil Marketing Company (OOMCO) announced plans to develop an oil terminal at Duqm to provide bunkering services to the regional market, states the OBG report.

The move seeks to tap into the increasing maritime trade along Oman’s Indian Ocean coast and attract more customers to the port itself, taking advantage of new business opportunities that are opening up, according to Omar Ahmed Salim Qatan, CEO of OOMCO.

“We are in the process of negotiations to acquire a footprint in Duqm by establishing a terminal and bunkering services,” Qatan said in an interview with local media. “We hope to conclude negotiations in 2014. We have our master plan and are in liaison with the Duqm port authority, but it is too early for me to give a time frame as the process is still on.”

OOMCO already provides bunkering services at the port of Sohar, to the north-west of Muscat on the Gulf of Oman, operating in partnership with German firm Matrix Marine Holding. The company was loading around 15,000 tonnes of fuel a month from its Sohar facility as of the end of last year, a figure it foresees rising to 45,000 tonnes a month in 2013. As is the case at Sohar, OOMCO intends to offer marine fuel and gas, along with lubricants and other services.

The expansion into Duqm is part of what Qatan said is an ongoing programme of diversifying the company’s activities beyond its main focus of automotive and aviation oil distribution and sales.

It is not just in the bunkering segment that Oman’s maritime services sector is looking to expand. The state-owned Oman Drydock Company (ODC) is also eyeing new investments for its Duqm base, building on the capacity of its yard, which began operating in the second quarter of 2012.

Company officials have said plans are in the works for a floating dry dock to supplement existing facilities, which will be capable of hosting up to ten ships of various sizes. Having served 76 vessels in its first year of operation, ODC is also aiming to diversify, developing the capacity to repair and maintain oil rigs and other specialist vessels such as derrick barges, dredgers and pipe-laying barges as part of a business plan to boost revenue to US$200 million annually.

With Duqm being developed as a major seaborne trade and trans-shipment hub, as well as a hydrocarbons and petrochemicals industrial centre, there will be increasing opportunities for maritime service providers, along with associated side industries and suppliers.

The challenge for companies such as ODC and OOMCO will come from other service centres in the region, particularly inside the Gulf where there are a number of large shipyards and bunkering terminals, such as those in Dubai.
 

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