The first phase of a mega expansion of Sohar Port and Freezone — part of a long-term move to grow this vital industrial and maritime hub by as much as 50 per cent — is set to get under way.
According to officials, the current expansion project — dubbed Sohar Port South — envisages the dredging and reclamation of a waterfront area (formerly known as the Majees Reclamation Project) on the southern boundaries of the hub.
As a first step in the implementation of this landmark development, Sohar Port and Freezone floated a tender last week inviting local and international consultants to prequalify for its contract to provide consultancy services as well as the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) on its Sohar Port South expansion. Interested consultants have until the end of this week to collect the prequalification documents.
Overseeing the Sohar Port South expansion is Sohar International Development Company (SIDC), a 50-50 joint venture between the Omani government, represented by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and the Port of Rotterdam.
Significantly, the expansion will add a further 200 hectares of land to Sohar Port’s present capacity of around 2,000 hectares — almost all of which has already been leased to tenants and service providers. Given its proximity to the bustling petrochemicals cluster of the port, it is expected that Sohar Port South will be earmarked almost exclusively for petrochemicals-based investment.
According to officials, the successful bidder will provide consultancy services, as well as detailed engineering design work covering the dredging, reclamation, shore protection and jetty development aspects of the Sohar Port South expansion project. A length of new quay wall will be added as a result, complete with a navigable approach channel for ships to be docked alongside, it is learnt. Part of the dredged material will be used to reclaim the 200-hectare site that will be created as a result of the project.
Sohar Port South is an integral part of the Sohar Port 2040 Master-plan, which sets out a long-term development strategy to sustain the hub’s appeal as a magnet for investment well into the future. Thriving within the industrial port area are dedicated clusters hosting petrochemicals, metals and logistics related investments, as well as a new agro terminal and food zone, that have together garnered around $26 billion in capital inflows into the port.
In an earlier interview published in the Observer (March 19, 2017), Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO — Sohar Port and Freezone, said the hub was targeting $8 billion worth of new investments over the next five years on the back of a new phase of expansion and growth.
Part of this targeted inflow will be generated by the Sohar Port South project, where newly reclaimed land will allow the industrial port to expand its portfolio of companies and add more business to drive growth within the Omani economy he said.
“Sohar will build on the Port of Rotterdam’s extensive experience with similar projects, like the massive Maasvlakte 2 land reclamation in the Netherlands, to achieve the best results during construction,” Geilenkirchen stated.
Maasvlakte2 is a massive civil engineering project involving the construction of a new port and supporting infrastructure on reclaimed land adjoining Maasvlakte. As an extension of the Port of Rotterdam, the project offers around 2,000 hectares of newly reclaimed land for container terminals and other investments — the difference being that the new ventures are operated on the principles of sustainability.