Oil and Gas - - SPOTLIGHT -

De­spite volatil­ity in the global mar­itime sec­tor, SO­HAR Port and Free­zone once again posted a year of con­sis­tent growth with an aver­age of over one mil­lion tonnes of cargo han­dled by the port ev­ery week in 2017. Con­tainer traf­fic was up by 36 per cent com­pared to 2016, dry bulk through­put in­creased by 25 per cent year-on-year. SO­HAR re­ceived 3,075 ves­sel calls in 2017, mark­ing a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease of 17 per cent, de­spite the con­tin­ued global trend to­wards con­sol­i­da­tion and larger ships.

One of the ma­jor high­lights for SO­HAR in 2017 was the es­tab­lish­ment of a 40-hectare food clus­ter at the port which in­clude a ma­jor flour mill, a world-class sugar re­fin­ery, and a grain silo com­plex. The former, op­er­ated by So­har Flour Mills has a ca­pac­ity of 500 tonnes per day, while the planned sugar re­fin­ery, owned and op­er­ated by the Oman Sugar Re­fin­ery Com­pany, will boast a pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of one­mil­lion tonnes per an­num. SO­HAR now op­er­ates a ter­mi­nal at the port ded­i­cated ex­clu­sively for the food clus­ter. An­other ma­jor project was for the pro­duc­tion of an­ti­mony, a min­eral which is pri­mar­ily used as a fire-re­tar­dant. In to­tal around 26 com­pa­nies are al­ready reap­ing the ben­e­fits of un­ri­valled ac­cess to land, low-cost en­ergy, and skilled work­force in the re­gion.

In­dus­tries al­ready lo­cated at SO­HAR

are also ex­pand­ing with Oman Oil Re­finer­ies and Pe­tro­leum In­dus­tries (Or­pic) boost­ing re­fin­ery ca­pac­ity, from 120,000 to 180,000 bar­rels per day; while Gulf Min­ing are con­struct­ing five fer­rochrome smelters to boost met­als out­put. In­vest­ment in the smelter is part of a push to grow our met­als clus­ter; to com­ple­ment and sup­port iron and alu­minium in­dus­tries at SO­HAR.

The met­als clus­ter at So­har is one of the fastest grow­ing, with a high eco­nomic yield. Stud­ies in­di­cate iron in­dus­tries and their de­riv­a­tives have ex­pe­ri­enced ex­cep­tional growth as they con­tinue to strive to meet de­mand. Look­ing ahead, a $ 60 mil­lion deal with a UK-led con­sor­tium will see SO­HAR house the largest rare earth me­tal plant of its kind out­side of China. Plus, agree­ments with two of Oman’s big­gest busi­ness houses will see an an­nual assem­bly within the free zone of 200,000 ve­hi­cles from some of the world’s lead­ing au­to­mo­tive brands. An­other new ad­di­tion to SO­HAR Port in 2018 is Oman’s first bi­tu­men re­fin­ery, a new plant that will sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the reliance im­ports of bi­tu­men and as­phalt for road paving and in­dus­trial ap­pli­ca­tions.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of the grow­ing lo­cal and global mar­ket for as­phalt and bi­tu­men, the project will cre­ate new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and em­ploy­ment in Oman with 34 di­rect jobs for ci­ti­zens gen­er­ated in the first phase of op­er­a­tions. Ac­cord­ing to mar­ket pro­jec­tions, the ca­pac­ity of phase 1 will be around 1.6 mil­lion tonnes per an­num, with 35 per cent al­lo­cated to the Omani mar­ket, 35 per cent ex­ported to GCC coun­tries and 30 per cent des­tined for the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket. The plant is backed by So­har As­phalt LLC, an Oman-reg­is­tered com­pany who are in­vest­ing $386 mil­lion in the new ven­ture.

Look­ing ahead, the re­gion’s first ma­jor cot­ton yarn plant in SO­HAR Free­zone will man­u­fac­ture a wide range of cot­ton yarn, to be op­er­ated as SV Pit­tie So­har Tex­tiles FZC-LLC, a wholly owned sub­sidiary of Bom­bay Stock Ex­change listed SVP Global Ven­tures Ltd. The fa­cil­ity will even­tu­ally pro­vide over 1,500 jobs and is ex­pected to start com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions late 2019.

With an out­put of around 150 met­ric tons of yarn a day, the new SVP fa­cil­ity will be the first step in es­tab­lish­ing a fully-fledged tex­tile clus­ter in SO­HAR Free­zone. Down­stream in­vest­ments in knit­ting, weav­ing, spin­ning and fabric man­u­fac­tur­ing could cre­ate a thriv­ing in­dus­trial clus­ter pro­vid­ing thou­sands of new jobs for lo­cal house­holds.

In ad­di­tion, SO­HAR will soon be re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing Oman’s na­tional food re­serve once the coun­try`s very first ter­mi­nal ded­i­cated to han­dling agri­cul­tural com­modi­ties is built.

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