Plans are under way for the establishment of major terminals for cement and bitumen imports via the Port of Duqm. Both facilities are indispensable to supporting the speedy and cost-effective development of the region's ambitious Special Economic Zone (SEZ), according to a senior official of the port authority. "We are finalizing negotiations with a well-known Omani cement manufacturer for the development of a cement import terminal on the quayside at Duqm Port," said Reggy Vermeulen, Commercial Director, Port of Duqm SAOC. "At the same time, we are in discussion with one of the world's leading producers of bitumen for the establishment of an import base for bitumen within the port.
Both facilities will contribute to a dramatic reduction in the local cost of these strategic commodities in the Duqm SEZ, as well as significantly reduce the construction cost of projects involving the use of these commodities," Vermeulen added in exclusive comments to the Observer. A modern Cement Terminal with a 150,000-tonne annual throughput capacity is envisaged at a site along Duqm Port's quay wall. The facility will be linked via a system of pipelines and conveyors to a roughly 4-hectare plot earmarked by the port authority for use by the investor for storage, bagging and other purposes. A culvert connecting the quay wall site with the adjoining plot is due to be ready by around the end of this year or early next year. Vermeulen said the Cement Terminal project is distinct from another parallel venture linked to the planned development of a full-fledged cement manufacturing plant at Duqm.
Talks are under way with a well-established cement producer for the establishment of the plant on a plot of land managed by the Port of Duqm, he said. "There are discussions under way with a company that is keen to establish a cement plant, designed partly for export. The company wishes to build this plant in a manner that would allow them to export part of the output via our quay. Discussions are now focused on exploring the most ideal location for the cement plant in terms of its proximity to the quay wall, as well as to allow for expansion and development in the future," the official stated. Likewise, the Bitumen Terminal project is also expected to have important ramifications for Duqm's rapid development, Vermeulen said. "A lot of road construction work is ongoing in Duqm and the wider Wusta Governorate, bitumen for which has to be trucked by road from Salalah and Sohar at enormous cost.
With the establishment of an import terminal at Duqm Port, this much-needed commodity will become easily available, thereby easing the cost of projects involving the use of bitumen." The capacity of the Bitumen Terminal is still a matter of review by the investor. "Depending upon how concrete are the various projects envisioned at Duqm, the investor will then take a call on the capacity," the official noted. As with the Cement Terminal, Port of Duqm has also allocated a roughly 3-4 hectare site for use by the bitumen investor for storage and other activities. The quayside location of the Bitumen Terminal will be linked to the plot via a system of pipelines running underneath a culvert. Both terminals are expected to be constructed and operational by around the end of 2013, Vermeulen said. "We are looking at a 12-month timeframe for the completion of the terminals after the handover of the culverts to the parties concerned, which will happen around the end of this year or early next year.
Based on this timeline, the terminals are expected to be in operation by the end of 2013." Vermeulen also praised the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm (SEZAD) for its role in facilitating discussions aimed at attracting investors to the area. "SEZAD has been very helpful and supportive in creating a proper economic environment that makes the Special Economic Zone viable and profitable for players to come and invest in Duqm." Port of Duqm launched its 'Early Operations' phase on August 12, 2012, designed to enable ships to bring project cargo for the oil and gas industry in the Wusta Governorate, as well as material for Duqm's infrastructure and project development. A 300-metre section of the quay wall has already been operationalised for the berthing of ships. Already two cargo ships have called Duqm since the start of 'early operations', with a third port call scheduled on August 27.
Oman Daily Observer