Port of Duqm nears full operational status

Jan de Nul was commissioned to do the port construction. Credit: Jan de Nul

The port of Duqm has entered the final phase of its construction upgrade. It is set within the special economic zone (SEZ) that stretches 2,000 km² with a 90 km-long beach front, which makes it the biggest in the Middle East region. The SEZ is located in Al Wusta Governorate on the Omani Coast, approximately 550 km south of Muscat, the capital of Oman.

The SEZ includes several functional zones: Duqm Port, a deep-water port; a dry dock; a regional airport; a heavy or medium and light industries complex, including a refinery and petrochemical complex; a residential and commercial area; a tourism area; a logistic services area; and an industrial fisheries complex with a port.

The port entered into an early operations phase in 2012 and currently remains in this stage with a fully functional commercial quay capable of handling heavy lift project cargo, general cargo, dry bulk, and containers. The security, commercial gate, and custom areas are currently under construction. This land-side infrastructure is expected to be in place by mid-2020, along with the liquid berth and liquid storage areas on the lee breakwater, which are also currently under development by Duqm Refinery.

Duqm Port offers a wide range of services, including the availability of marine pollution prevention facilities (MARPOL at dry dock); fresh water supply; fuel bunkering; and domestic waste collection and treatment facilities.

The development, management, and regulation of the SEZ is overseen by the Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZAD), a statutory institution empowered under the Royal Decree with regulatory, administrative, fiscal, and economic responsibilities within Duqm.

Duqm SEZ is managed by a chairman who holds the ranks of a minister. The Royal Decree grants SEZAD the regulation rights of the SEZ, registration of the projects as per Commercial Registration Law, licensing of tourist projects, and issuance of environmental permits, as well as taking the necessary environmental measures to implement the environment protection and anti-pollution law.

SEZAD established in 2013 its own development or commercial subsidiary, Tatweer, which is the Omani company for the development of the SEZ. Tatweer is responsible for providing project management services for all SEZAD funded projects in the SEZ.

Within the SEZ, the development of Duqm Port is being financed by the government of Oman from the sultanate budget, and in conjunction with a USD265 million loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The Port of Duqm Company (PDC) is the port authority for the PDC, which is a 50/50 joint venture between the government and the Consortium Antwerp Port (CAP). PDC has a concession contract with the SEZAD for 28 years to co-invest, develop, manage, and operate the Port.

Subsequent development will be done in line with the “Oman Vision 2040”. Simultaneously, the government has very recently established a separate entity, Oman Drydock Company.

In order to reduce its dependence on oil, Oman plans to diversify its economy from exportation of crude oil to other mineral exports, manufacturing, logistic service arrangement, warehousing, fisheries, tourism, as well as value added industry in the oil and gas sector such as downstream refinery, petroleum storage, and petrochemical plants.