Plan for Oman’s new $2.5 billion seaport project in Sur firms up

MUSCAT, JUNE 30 – Construction work on Oman’s newest seaport — planned at Sur on the South Al Sharqiyah coast — could commence as early as next year, according to a key player in the estimated $2.5 billion project. Suez Capital Ltd, a Maltese based firm which says it has been granted the exclusive mandate by the Omani government to design, finance, build and operate the Port of Sur on a concession basis, has wrapped up Phase 1 of the project centring on the completion of feasibility studies and preliminary design work.

The ‘Final Bankable Feasibility Study’ as well as the preliminary design of the Port of Sur were presented recently to Hilal bin Hamad al Hasani, CEO — Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE), which is overseeing the development of the Sultanate’s newest maritime gateway on Oman’s east coast. Earlier this year, PEIE — the wholly government-owned entity administering the nation’s expanding network of industrial parks —confirmed that it had commissioned a study to weigh the feasibility of establishing a port at its industrial estate in Sur. The announcement came during Industry Day celebrations, marking the anniversary of His Majesty the Sultan’s historic visit to Rusayl Industrial Estate — the first industrial hub in the Sultanate — in 1991.

Envisaged at Sur is a “world-class transshipment port” that leverages its proximity to the Indian subcontinent, Iran and Central Asia to create the “GCC’s newest international logistics hub”. “Its strategic location is ideal for the development of a free zone, heavy and light industry park, mining initiatives, and food and water security initiatives,” Suez Capital explained in details published on its website.  Furthermore, as the closest point in the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent, Sur is geographically well placed to become the primary strategic hub in seaborne trade for shipping lines in the Indian Ocean, as well as capitalise on marine traffic generated by the Ashgabad Corridor to Central Asia, it is pointed out.

Significantly, PEIE and its investment arm Shumookh Investment Services are key partners in the proposed port project. According to Suez Capital, a leading Chinese state-owned construction firm is interested in building and financing the project, while an international JV, comprising French and Chinese players, is eager to provide operation and management services to the facility.In a statement , Suez Capital said it had presented the Final Bankable Feasibility Study and Preliminary Design of the Port of Sur to a “supervising committee of the Government of Oman comprising senior officials of all relevant ministries”. The report was handed over by a team lead by Shiv Shankaran Nair, Chairman of Suez Holdings; Eng Antonio Gnischi, CEO of the Group’s design arm, FGTC; Engineers Lluis Tarafa and Cesare Mosca of IDOM, Spain’s leading engineering consultants; and Hussein al Lawati CEO of Suez Oman, the local subsidiary of Suez Holding. Also present were representatives of Omani environmental consultants HMR.
“With the signing of the 50-year concession and submission of the report, the project has now moved to its second stage — the raising of capital of $1.5 billion, to complete the first stage of the project. Work is expected to start at the end of the first quarter 2019,” it added.

Conrad Prabhu