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Edwin Lammers, executive commercial manager of Sohar Port and Freezone

Sohar port to develop LNG bunkering services

Oman’s Sohar Port and Freezone has started to offer ship-to-ship (STS) LNG services and revealed plans to establish LNG bunkering facilities in future.

“We are doing this in two stages. This year we started licensing STS transfer of LNG and in the first half of 2015 we will finalise all the prefeasibility study so that we can have clarity on the investments that are required, and the actions needed to be taken by all the different parties as there are a lot of stakeholders involved,” Edwin Lammers, executive commercial manager of Sohar Port and Freezone, told Seatrade Global.

The port has already put all the necessary licensing structures in place to be able to start LNG STS services, and currently there are only a few ports in the world that are able to offer this service, with Rotterdam and Singapore ports among them.

The announcement by Sohar Port comes just a few months ahead of IMO’s deadline for ships passing through Emission Control Areas (ECAs) to reduce the fuel sulphur content limit to 0.1%.

“While the industry continues to explore safe and commercially viable options for reducing sulphur oxide levels in conventional fuels, many of the world’s biggest shipping lines are looking to bypass costly upgrades in favour of moving directly to LNG. We’ve anticipated this trend and expect the industry to develop fast,” Lammers observed.

“United Arab Shipping Co (UASC) is building 17 hybrid ships – six with capacities of over 18,000 teu, and looking to establish an LNG base in the Middle East. We want to be ready to receive those ships,” he added,

For now, the capacity of the planned LNG bunkering service is yet to be confirmed, pending the results of the study. “Nobody knows what will be the required volumes yet so that makes it a challenging exercise. But once the project takes off, we want to make sure that we are playing along with the big players,” Lammers affirmed.

Sohar Port and Freezone is a deepsea port and free zone in the Middle East, situated in Oman around 200 km northwest of its capital Muscat. It is managed by Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC), a joint venture between Port of Rotterdam and Oman.

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