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Container volumes surge 29% at Oman’s Port of Salalah

Container volumes surge 29% at Oman’s Port of Salalah
Port of Salalah’s strategic location on the Arabian Sea will ensure it continues cashing in on the increasingly large ULCS being deployed on the main Asia-Europe trade lanes, the Omani transhipment hub’s ceo David Gledhill predicts.

Container throughput at Salalah reached 1.584m teu in the first half of 2016, a heartening 29% increase on the corresponding period in 2015 when taken in context with the current, depressed state of the global boxship market.

A new $143m, 1.26km deep-water quay which came on line last December and increased Salalah’s general cargo and liquid bulk capacity to 20m tons and 6m tons respectively, has also contributed to a 10% H1 increase in general cargo handled. The terminal is now handling approximately 1m metric tons (mt) monthly, Gledhill says.

Located 170km east of the border with war-torn Yeman and south of the Straits of Hormuz, Salalah’s proximity to the open sea and the main east-west trade lane is a lure for the largest ULCS - the weapons of choice in the economy-of-scale and eco-conscious arms race among the world’s major operators.

The port, 30% owned and operated by AMP Terminals, receives around 30 container liner service calls each month, linking Salalah to all the main ports in Europe, the Mediterranean, the US East Coast, East Africa, the Indian Sub-continent, the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

The 19,224 teu MSC Zoe, among the largest class of containerships currently in service, is the biggest vessel to call thus far and Gledhill sees the trend continuing at Salalah where 90% of container traffic is transhipment cargo movement.

“With the shipping industry witnessing significant changes in terms of structure and alliances, we have seen enhanced connectivity to East Africa, Somalia and North Oman in 2016,” he said.

“We are actively engaged in discussions with the shipping lines who want to leverage the location of Salalah to increase penetration into regional markets like Yemen, countries around the Red Sea and Iran.”

Gledhill says 16,000 teu capacity boxships are the “largest vessels regularly calling at Salalah” which placed demands on the port to meet “the sustained ability to handle ULCS performance levels”.

“We are seeing a trend of deployment of these large vessels on major trade lanes and we expect to see more of these calls in the near future.”

Salalah is one of the largest container ports in the Middle East with 2015 volumes topping 2.56m teu and 7.9m tons of bulk cargo.

The general cargo facility is currently handling 200,000 metric tons (MT) of limestone and approximately 550,000 mt of gypsum monthly, among other cargoes. The new berths are used for discharging grain and loading bagged cement as well as berthing of the multi-national Navies engaged in anti-piracy operation. It also handles cruise vessels. 

 “We act as the container relay hub for East Africa, the Red Sea, Arabian Gulf and the Indian Sub-continent. Bulk cargo, Limestone and Gypsum are predominantly destined for the Indian Sub-continent. Cement is exported to the Red Sea and East Africa, Wheat is imported from Australia and liquid exports are predominantly to Europe and Asia,” said Gledhill.