Can you share with us a few highlights of Port of Duqm in 2016?
A lot of contracts were awarded in 2016. This is an indication that the Government of the Sultanate is 100 per cent committed to the development in Duqm despite the current economic conditions. Duqm is still a priority and this is extremely encouraging for the future. The year 2016 was better than we thought. We had significant increase in revenue and volumes.
What are the latest initiatives in place at the Duqm port?
The Port, which commenced early operations in mid-2012, has now seen award of contract packages. The years 2017, 2018 and 2019 will be very crucial for Port of Duqm as things are moving at a brisk pace to complete development works in Phase-1 to commence full-fledged operations.
What were the challenges facing the port?
The biggest challenge was availability of funds for various stages of the Phase-1 project. Thanks to the effort of the Government and all parties concerned, we have addressed the issue very well and the packages have been awarded. We have received promising support from the Government in allowing award of the packages. We are very enthusiastic and confident about the forthcoming years.
What sets Port of Duqm apart from its competitors?
The strategic location of Duqm gives it the much-needed strategic edge. Further, the port is a business-friendly destination for industrial and logistical investments. The Duqm area is extremely rich in mineral deposits. With the large limestone, gypsum and dolomite deposits in and around Duqm, it has the potential to become a hot spot for mining and allied industries. And once the Phase-1 of the port is completed in 2020, it could become a logistics hub.
Oman has placed enormous thrust on economic diversification following the fluctuating oil prices. What are the economic diversification plans at the Duqm port?
The Sultanate’s mineral resources are untapped. We have incredible resources such as limestone, gypsum, and dolomite and so on. The Duqm port will focus on export of minerals in the next three years, which help in diversifying from oil. We are working on mineral terminal, which will facilitate export of raw materials as well as finished products. And thanks to the space that we have in Duqm, it will be easy to set up the refining industry for minerals.
Yet another one that we are working on is project cargo for the oil and gas industry. Duqm is ideally located within the country and most of the oil fields are located within a short distance. We will also start construction of container and car terminal, which will help in the Government’s diversification strategy and reduce the over dependence on oil revenue.
What are the target markets for Port of Duqm? Where do you see the traffic come from?
The Duqm port intends to be a significant player in the region. The GCC, India and Africa will be the target markets as Duqm could become a hub for all these markets. We are marketing the port across big markets and suppliers in a big way. And this is beginning to get recognition. The location of the port makes it an ideal gateway to serve Oman and the region, so there is a lot of eagerness to invest.