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Fresh impetus for Oman’s green bunkering terminals’ initiative

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MUSCAT: Preliminary plans for the establishment of a pair of first-ever, green fuel-based bunkering terminals on Oman’s coast have received a significant boost with key international partners now weighing the feasibility of setting up a similar facility on the US East Coast.

If proven to be feasible, Oman will be part of a pioneering global initiative to promote green fuels, based on green ammonia and green methanol, as bunker for maritime shipping in place of emission-heavy fossil-based bunker fuels.

Global trading and investment giant Sumitomo Corporation, which is a key partner in the green ammonia-based bunkering terminal proposed at the Port of Savannah on the US East Coast, said the initiative bodes well for the growth of a wider network that includes terminals in Oman as well.

In a statement issued during the recent signing of an MoU to explore the feasibility of the US project, Koji Endo, General Manager of Energy Division at Sumitomo Corporation, said “We embark on our ambition to build the first Ship-to-Ship ammonia bunkering base in the US in addition to Singapore and Oman, which highlight our commitment to offer our customers the best available and technologically proven solution to reduce the emission footprint from maritime transport.”

In the Sultanate of Oman, the Middle East arm of Sumitomo Corporation has partnered with an international consortium that includes OQ Alternative Energy (part of OQ Group of Oman), to jointly conduct the feasibility of introducing green fuel bunkering at the ports of Duqm and Salalah.

A Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed to this effect last December includes Omani integrated logistics group Asyad and Denmark-based global shipping major AP Moller-Maersk as partners in the initiative.

As part of the Oman-focused MoC, the partners will study, on the one hand, the technical and commercial feasibility of green ammonia and/or green methanol bunkering at the ports of Duqm and/or Salalah, as well as the export of these green bunker fuels to overseas markets.

On the other, the partners will assess the potential for green fuel ship-to-ship bunkering operations and green fuel loading operations in Oman ports.

Common to the Omani and the US bunkering project initiatives is the presence of two key players: Sumitomo Corporation and AP Moller-Maersk. Sumitomo’s role in the US venture is to structure, integrate and promote the end-to-end supply chain of green/blue ammonia, which includes sourcing, transportation, storage and bunkering.

AP Moller Maersk is tasked with providing input specific to container vessels, as well as to work on development of safe and reliable ammonia bunkering procedures.

As in Oman, where the major ports of Duqm and Salalah are tipped to host the green fuel bunker terminals, the project partners in the US venture have zeroed in on the Port of Savannah, currently the third busiest gateway for containerised trade in the US.

Both initiatives are underpinned by a desire to promote the use of green ammonia as a zero-carbon alternative to fossil-fuel based bunkers currently responsible for a significant contribute to planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Given Oman’s strategic geographical location abutting major international shipping lanes, the ports of Duqm and Salalah are ideally situated to host green ammonia or methanol based bunker terminals.

Omani integrated energy group OQ also has major investments planned in future green energy projects that will come up in the hinterlands of the two ports.

Coupled with the presence of established petrochemical industries in these two locations, OQ is well-positioned to drive the growth of a green fuel maritime bunkering industry that supports both local and international demand.

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