Construction work on the Sultanate's first sugar refinery project is slated to shortly commence at the Port of Sohar, according to a senior official of the port authority. Edwin Lammers, Executive Commercial Manager, said the state-of-the-art facility, with a capacity to process an estimated one million tons per annum of raw sugar, will be established at a waterfront site adjoining a major Agro-Bulk Terminal also planned at the industrial port.
The sugar plant and agro terminal are proposed to be built alongside a quay currently occupied by Oman International Container Terminal (OICT). The latter facility is due to be relocated to larger premises further up the quay wall, thus making way for the establishment of the large-scale sugar refinery and agro-bulk terminal.
"Plans for the sugar refinery are progressive pretty well," said Lammers. "At this moment, we are looking to finalise the requisite land lease agreements with the investor. The project will be built partly on available land, and partly on land currently in the hands of the container terminal. We are in the process of transferring the container terminal to a new location, and once that is done, we can finalize the process of handing over this land to the sugar refinery investor. Project designs are ready, and applications have been made for environmental permits, which must be typically done before construction starts. Construction work is expected to start during the course of this summer," he stated in comments to the Observer.
Describing the project as "large" by regional and global standards, the official said the venture will be designed to process one million tons per annum of raw sugar to produce around 900,000 tons of fine crystallized sugar. The facility will compete with existing sugar refineries in the Gulf region, but burgeoning global consumption will mean that demand will always remain strong, he noted. Spearheading the Sultanate's maiden sugar refinery venture is an Omani businessman who has similar investments in Tanzania.
"The investor has some sugarcane estates there and sees this Sohar project as added value to his logistics supply chain," Lammers said, adding that raw sugar for the plant will be sourced from international markets depending upon price factors and market economic s. Significantly, the sugar refinery project represents the seaport's first major departure from industries dominated by petrochemicals and metals. More importantly, it will help buttress the port's plans to establish a modern Agro-Bulk Terminal to support the country's food security objectives.
Oman Daily Observer