MUSCAT, JUNE 22 – Oman Shipping Company (OSC) — the wholly Omani government-owned maritime freight transportation services provider — has plans to invest in a modern container shipping fleet in an ambitious bid to become a significant player in the regional container shipping business. Expansion plans outlined by OSC’s parent holding company Asyad Group — the Sultanate’s end-to-end transportation and logistics flagship — envision the growth of Oman Shipping’s container fleet from two vessels presently to 15 by 2023. This is line with Oman Shipping’s aspirations to carry 1 million TEUs of containers annually across its regional network by 2023.
Details about Oman Shipping’s bold expansion strategy were outlined at a first-ever ‘majlis’ hosted by Asyad Group on Wednesday. It envisions a substantial ramp-up in the size of the company’s diversified shipping fleet, from 49 vessels by the end of 2018, to 71 by 2023. The new additions will primarily come in the Container Liner segment, with as many as 13 vessels planned to be inducted over the next five years.
“Our objective is to transport one million containers in 2023 as part of a five-year development plan,” said Eng Abdulrehman al Hatmi, Group CEO — Asyad Group. “For dry bulk goods, we aim to acquire 30 per cent of local market. And we hope to enhance linkages with Oman’s three main ports at Suhar, Duqm and Salalah with regional ports shipping, from 160 calls in 2019 to over 400 in 2023. This will enable us to develop Oman as a hub that integrates ports, shipping and logistics across the entire supply chain.”
OSC’s wholly owned subsidiary Oman Container Line (OCL) currently operates a container feedering service, namely the Gulf Express Service (GEX), between Jebel Ali in the UAE and Suhar, Duqm and Salalah in Oman. Launching operations initially as a liner operator, OCL has since made the strategic transition to becoming a third party feeder operator.
Sizable growth in OSC’s fleet capacity is also forecast in the Dry Bulk business, according to Asyad Group. The number of dry bulk vessels in the fleet is projected to soar to 14 in 2023, up from 6 as of end-2018. This is in line with a strategy to grow OSC’s dry bulk shipping business from 2.9 million tonnes in 2019 (representing a mere 2 per cent of the local market share) to a hefty 13.6 million tonnes by 2023 (corresponding to 30 per cent of market share). The rest of Oman Shipping’s fleet is made up of bulk carriers, VLCC tankers, LNG carriers, MR tankers, LPG carriers, Very Large Ore Carriers, methanol and other chemical carriers.
Additionally, OSC foresees a 193 per cent surge in calls by its vessels at Omani ports from 160 calls this year to 468 in 2023. OSC-owned vessels currently account for a sizable share of the hydrocarbons, liquids and dry bulk commodities shipped in and out of Omani ports.
Oman Shipping expansion plans, said the Group CEO, are part of a grand vision to position the Sultanate as a logistics hub in the region. To help crystalise this vision, Asyad has set up a team with representatives from the shipping and logistics segments of the industry. The ultimate goal, he said, is to develop an integrated logistics value proposition for the industry, characterised by efficient and cost-competitive services across the supply chain that will attract investors and customers to the Sultanate.