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Oman Shipping plans maiden foray into container shipping operations

Oman Shipping Company  (OSCOSC) is preparing to venture into container shipping transportation with the planned launch of a feeder service linking Oman with key markets in the Middle East. The move is in line with the state-owned company's aspirations to develop into a well-diversified national shipping line encompassing key areas of the maritime shipping trade.

Oman Shipping plans maiden foray into container shipping operations
20 September 2010 - 04:43

MUSCAT -- Oman Shipping Company  (OSCOSC) is preparing to venture into container shipping transportation with the planned launch of a feeder service linking Oman with key markets in the Middle East. The move is in line with the state-owned company's aspirations to develop into a well-diversified national shipping line encompassing key areas of the maritime shipping trade. Thus, starting out as a company with an initial focus on the transportation of LNG, OSCOSC has since invested in modern product tankers, multi-purpose vessels, methanol carriers and ore carriers, besides LNG ships, Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), and an LPG carrier.

Plans drawn by the company envisage a modest, but hugely significant, foray into the regional container shipping trade. The service, slated to be launched within the next several months, will initially involve a mid-sized container vessel with a capacity of about 800-1,000 TEU. The vessel will operate a feeder service that will connect Muscat and Sohar with ports in Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Libya. Other ports located along the route, notably Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), will be added in due course to the network in an effort to boost the utilisation of the service.

Significantly, the proposed feeder operation is aimed at boosting maritime trade between the countries covered by the service. In launching a feeder operation linking the Sultanate with the countries in question, OSCOSC will effectively be laying the underpinnings of a new and potentially promising intra-regional maritime trade route unserved by existing feeder operators serving the region. By introducing a feeder service connecting Oman with the wider Middle East region, OSCOSC hopes to give new impetus to the Omani government's goal of stimulating greater trade exchanges with fellow Arab countries of the region.

Conceived as a wholly owned venture of OSCOSC, the feeder service will be operated as a common carrier.

Consequently, any unused container slots on the vessel can be offered to Main Line Operators (MOLs) and non-vessel owning container carriers (NVOCCs), thereby optimising the utilisation of the vessel. The feeder operation is proposed to be launched initially as a monthly service, but will be eventually upgraded to a weekly service -- the ideal frequency for a service of this nature -- depending upon its utilisation.

Oman Shipping Company, which is 80 per cent owned by the Ministry of Finance and 20 per cent owned by Oman Oil Company (OOC), is dedicated to supporting shipping transportation needs of the Sultanate's vital energy and petrochemical sectors, as well as other industries dependent on dry and liquid bulk maritime shipping.

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