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Salalah Port set to achieve general cargo target of 20m tonnes in 2023

Asyad Group's Jabal Hafit loading gypsum at Salalah Port
Asyad Group's Jabal Hafit loading gypsum at Salalah Port

MUSCAT: Port of Salalah, one of the world’s largest transshipment hubs, is on track to achieving its goal of handling 20 million tonnes of general cargo volumes – a target set by the publicly traded company for 2023.

It comes as the port recorded a healthy 15 per cent increase in volumes handled at the General Cargo Terminal (GCT) during the first quarter of this year, repeating a similar uptick in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Accordingly, general cargo volumes rose to 5.039 million tonnes in Q1 2023, up from 4.363 million tonnes a year earlier. Driving the general cargo business at the port were commodities, such as limestone, gypsum, cement and methanol, a top official said.

“With an ambitious target of 20 million MT by end 2023 (a growth of 10 per cent YoY), the General Cargo business is off to a good start in Q1 2023 with volume performing on target and delivering a 10 per cent YoY growth,” said Braik Musallam al Amri, Chairman - Salalah Port Services Co SAOG.

“The key commodity segments i.e. dry bulk (limestone and gypsum) as well as liquid bulk are showing growth and the forecast also remains strong for the rest of the year, despite the increase in vessel charter for dry bulk. The major dry bulk importing markets India and Vietnam are also forecasting positive growth,” Al Amri stated in the Directors’ first quarter report issued on Thursday.

Barring modest dips during the recent global economic downturn, general cargo throughput at the logistics hub has been on the uptrend over the last decade, fuelled largely by exports of mineral commodities, grain imports under the UN Food Programme and, of late, shipments of LPG as well. In 2022, general cargo volumes were up 9 per cent at 18.395 million tonnes, from 16.895 million tonnes a year earlier.

On the other hand, container volumes however were marginally lower at 1.056 million TEUs in Q1 2023, down from 1.093 million TEUs a year earlier. Despite the dip in overall container throughput, import gate volumes (as opposed to transshipment volumes) registered an uptick during the quarter, the Chairman noted.

“In the containerised segment, while the transshipment volume, which holds the lion’s share, continues to be performing in line with same period last year and Import gate volumes were at 14% YoY growth despite the negative development at a global level. The positive trend with the gate volume growth is expected to continue in 2023 led by various initiatives including redistribution, container conversion of bulk, as well as the Yemen gateway,” he explained.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2023, Port of Salalah posted improved financials in unaudited consolidated financial results announced on Thursday. Revenue for the quarter ticked up to RO 17.939 million, from RO 17.258 million in Q1 2022. Consolidated net profit was higher at RO 1.170 million, up from RO 0.908 million in Q1 2022. Consolidated EBITDA also ticked up to RO 4.118 million during Q1, 2023, as compared to RO3.155 million a year earlier.

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