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Arabia's maritime world reports a good year for shipping as 2014 closes

SEVERAL maritime and ports companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council, consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, say 2014 has been a good year.

Arabia's maritime world reports a good year for shipping as 2014 closes
03 December 2014 - 23:26
Arabia's maritime world reports a good year for shipping as 2014 closes

SEVERAL maritime and ports companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council, consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, say 2014 has been a good year.

This was the response in a survey carried out by the Arabian Supply Chain magazine which asked top men about what they felt had been the highlight of the year for their companies and the most important thing to happen in 2014.

One company that has definitely had an interesting year was DP World, which witnessed the beginning of operations at its much-anticipated Terminal 3 at Jebel Ali Port in Dubai.

In November, DP World also announced that it has agreed to buy Economic Zones World FZE, which operates the Jebel Ali Free Zone. DP World and EZW are both units of Ports & Free Zone World FZE, owned by Dubai World.

DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said T3 was definitely the major event of 2014. "The key highlight in the year at our flagship Jebel Ali Port was Terminal 3 becoming operational, adding two million TEU capacity. 

"A further two million is expected to come on line in the second half of 2015, taking total capacity there to 19 million TEU. This is part of our commitment to invest to meet future capacity demands in Dubai," he told Marine & Ports Middle East magazine.

Looking ahead, Mr Bin Sulayem said the two main trends will be ultra large container vessels that are increasingly coming into service, which he described as "one of the biggest challenges for the industry."

The second trend, he said, was a move from the traditional east-west trade in the northern hemisphere, to increased east-west trade in the south as the number of middle class consumers grow in emerging markets. "Which is one of the reasons we are focused on those markets," said Mr Bin Sulayem.

In Oman, the SOHAR Port and Freezone has also had a good year, with a steady stream of announcements about big projects. Executive commercial manager at SOHAR, Edwin Lammers, said that with so much going on there have been many highlights during 2014.

"We've had the arrival of the first-ever 10,000-TEU ship, a US$130 million project to expand the container terminal, the transfer of commercial traffic from Muscat and a $60 million deal to bring the largest rare earth metals plant outside of China to SOHAR. 

"However, the finalisation of plans to build an agricultural terminal and cluster at SOHAR is perhaps the most significant. This is because it is the first conscious move away from the original clusters established when the port was founded, and will generate significant new revenue streams," said Mr Lammers.

From Bahrain, CEO Nils Kristian Berge of ASRY, the Gulf's oldest shipyard, said the highlight of the year for ASRY had been the success of Project Jupiter, an initiative to give ASRY the leading selection of onsite specialist contractors in the region.

"We have had some of the most prominent contractor names in the region invest heavily in the yard, including MAN, Seven Seas, ABB, Solas, and more," Mr Berge said. 

"Now, one of ASRY's key differentiators is our ability to provide all our customers with immediate and direct maintenance from our leading list of onsite contractors."

He said the most notable trend in the maritime industry for ASRY, especially in the region, was the decrease in shipowners' spending per vessel on maintenance.

"While we saw equal number of vessels dock at ASRY to 2013, overall spend from those dockings was less. This decrease in repair spending suggests a continuation in lack of confidence from shipowners, which was widely expected to rise this year," said Mr Berge.

"It could also be an indication of the average age of global fleets, which is lower than previous years, which impacts scopes and repair schedules significantly."

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