Muscat: Sohar port authorities have started discussions with major food processing and logistics firms from several countries for building processing facilities at the free zone, close to the proposed agro-bulk terminal.
The work to build agro-bulk terminal, which will have a capacity to handle four million tonnes of food grains and other agro products, will start soon in Sohar.
"We are talking to a lot of companies from Brazil, India, the United Kingdom and Africa to go further downstream into the free zone," Andre Toet, chief executive officer of Sohar Industrial Port Company, (SIPC) told Times of Oman.
"The free zone will be a beautiful location to set up downstream agro industries – food processing, food packaging and warehousing for distribution. The companies will use the facility as a regional hub for the Middle East region," added Toet.
Toet also revealed that Sohar port is the final stage of negotiation with all players who are going to use the proposed agro-bulk terminal. These players are the Public Authority for Strategic Food Reserves (PASFR), Oman Flour Mills and Oman Sugar Refinery Company.
PASFR and Oman Flour Mills are building a mega silo facility to store food grains (and build a flour mill). The Sultanate's first sugar mill is also coming up near the agro-terminal, which will have handling facility to import raw material and export finished products for the project.
"We will convert the old container terminal B (recently vacated by Oman International Container Terminal) into an agro-terminal. As a port, we need not have to invest additional money in this facility. Everything is there, we need to change only the discharging equipment," he explained. Toet also noted that the work on sugar refinery project will start in the third quarter of this year. The project, with a capacity to produce one million tonnes of refined sugar per year, will cost $200 million.
Sohar port is also planning to expand its container terminal capacity by building another large terminal.
The port is planning to develop Terminal D, which will have a container handling capacity of almost five million TEUs per year.
The Oman International Container Terminal, which manages Sohar Port's container terminal, is now operating Terminal C, which will enhance container handling capacity of one million TEUs. The whole work at Terminal C will be completed by 2015.
Many of the world's most renowned shipping companies such as Maersk Line, UASC, CMA and APL already operate from the existing container terminal of Sohar port.
These recent developments enable shipping lines to bring their mainline vessels directly into Oman.
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