Sohar: Port development in the Middle East continues to grow at a phenomenal pace. More than $30bn of work is earmarked at terminals in the region in the coming few years. However, one leading port official in the region is not worried about the kilometres of new quayside being built. Andre Toet is the ceo of Oman’s Port of Sohar. On all the developments taking place at his facility and around him, Toet says, “This can only be a positive thing for the region and its people, but overcapacity is not something that concerns me. As with any venture, there must be a balance between cargo turnover and expansion.”
Every port in Oman has its own value proposition, Toet explains. Salalah is the connection point between east and west. Sohar is, he says, the gateway for Oman and the Middle East, the upper Gulf, and Indian Rim. Duqm will play a similar role, but their focus is primarily on heavy industries.
The long-term aim at Sohar is to bring back cargo back to Oman.
“To achieve these goals,” Toet says, “we’re pushing to grow not only the captive market, but also the markets that are around us.”
For instance, road and rail links will connect the port and freezone with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. On top of that the port is constantly growing and consolidating cargo volumes to become more attractive to shipping lines that bring in the big ships.
Just last month the port welcomed the first ever 10,000 teu ship to dock in either Sohar or Muscat and the port is currently handling in excess of 200,000 teu each year. This will increase by a further 300,000 once traffic from Muscat is relocated, a process that will be completed by August.
The new Terminal-C in Sohar is planned to be one of the most advanced in the region and is being developed in three phases. Once fully completed, the port’s container capacity will more than double its current capacity to the targeted 1.5m teu annually.
Toet’s career in maritime stretches back to 1986 when he started at sea with Nedlloyd Lines. His subsequent ashore career saw him take on many roles including CEO of Maersk Central Europe and COO at the Port of Rotterdam. [10/06/14]