Sohar port: going from strength to strength

Sohar port: going from strength to strength

Port announces new services

The ship to ship LNG service and bunkering facilities will make Sohar a more significant player in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf

November 2014

Sohar Port and Freezone (Sohar) is offering LNG ship to ship (STS) services and plans to start bunkering facilities, the company said.

Measures are now in place to begin issuing licences to STS service providers to handle LNG. The announcement was made at the Singapore International Bunkering Conference (Sibcon).

“We are delighted to announce we have put all of the necessary licensing structures in place to be able to start LNG ship-to-ship services in Sohar. Around the world there are currently only a few ports that are able to offer this service, among them Port of Rotterdam and Singapore,” Sohar executive commercial manager Edwin Lammers said.

“This will be the first phase of our project, and we will move quickly in issuing the new licences and getting things up and running. The second phase will involve installing LNG bunkering services for vessels calling at Sohar Port,” he continued.

The news comes just a few months ahead of the International Maritime Organisation’s deadline for cargo ships passing through so-called ‘Emissions Control Areas’ to drastically reduce the level of sulphur oxide in fuel supplies to just 0.1 per cent. This has prompted an almost immediate worldwide investigation into potential LNG fuelling options.

“While the industry continues to explore safe and commercially viable options for reducing SOX 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,” said Lammers.

He continued: “As a first step, many organisations are developing ships that would be capable of burning LNG and diesel; Hanjin Shipping, DNV GL and GTT, for example, are currently designing a vessel that can carry 16,300 teu on Asia-Europe routes. United Arab Shipping Co is also building 17 hybrid ships – six with capacities of over 18,000 teu, while it is looking to establish an LNG base in the Middle East.”

In addition to global shipping lines, a new European Union regulatory framework will make it a requirement for member states to build LNG infrastructure across core Trans-European Networks for Transport by 2025, ideally every 400 km. With many of Europe’s ports falling within one of the IMO’s Emissions Control Areas, the new rules are part of a far wider clean fuel strategy focused on bringing alternative fuels to the entire European transport sector, including inland vehicles.

And Europe is not alone, according to Lammers. “A recent LNG bunkering survey published by Lloyd’s Register reported that of the four ports in North America, 15 in Europe and three in Asia that took part in the survey, more than half have LNG plans in the pipeline, and more than half also said they are working alongside other ports to develop those plans,” Lammers remarked.

Sohar completed this year a $130-million relocation and expansion of its container terminal. The project raised annual capacity to 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units from 800,000 teu, and allowed the port to handle large container ships.

The port plans to increase its container capacity further to 4 million teu in 2017 at a cost of between RO60 and 70 million ($155-180 million).

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