Muscat: The proposed agro-bulk terminal at Sohar port will handle 700,000 tonnes of grain products for the Public Authority for Strategic Food Reserves (PASFR) and will be operated by Oman Flour Mills, a top port official said.
The land earmarked for the construction of the agro-bulk terminal will be handed over after the completion of the new container terminal at the port, which is being built by Oman International Container Terminal (OICT), Edwin Lammers, executive commercial manager, Sohar Industrial Port Company, told Times of Oman in an interview. The OICT container terminal is expected to be ready by the end of June, he added.
The establishment of this agro-bulk terminal, which will be the first of its kind in the region, is very important because it is going to open up a wide range of opportunities for Oman to develop a centre of food-oriented logistics, Lammers said.
Edwin Lammers also noted that the terminal will provide good opportunities to market Sohar as a hub for the handling of various agro-commodities and other food-related bulk cargoes.
Oman is surrounded by a number of countries that are dependent on the import of food so the terminal will serve the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the Indian subcontinent, and other countries, added Lammers.
"The terminal will handle the import of 1 million tonnes of raw sugar for the Oman Sugar Refinery," he explained, adding that the construction of the Sultanate's first sugar refinery will also start after the completion of the new OICT terminal.
Sugar refinery project
Both the agro-bulk terminal and the sugar refinery are expected to be up and running within 18 months after the construction begins, Lammers stated.
Lammers pointed out that the sugar refinery project is a very important one because "it will not only generate sugar imports but also will create a lot of export opportunities on the container front which will help us grow the container business."
Commenting on a major land reclamation scheme at Sohar port, he said it will help the development of the industries in the area.
Almost all 2,000 hectares of the industrial port area have been leased so the reclamation project will provide additional space within the agro-bulk terminal and will attract more investment, he added.
On Sohar Freezone, the port official said, "The first phase of the free zone, which is 500 hectares, is expected to be leased out towards the end of this year or the beginning of the next year." The mass planning of the second phase has started and efforts are underway to finalise the technical and economical feasibility studies this year.