With operations badly disrupted by a cyclone earlier this year, the Port of Salalah has posted a mixed set of results for the first nine months of the year. In the 9 month period to the end of September 2018, volumes at the General Cargo Terminal were up by 11 % compared with the corresponding period of last year, while container throughput slumped by more than 9%.
The GCT handled a total of 11.39 million tons in this period, with the main commodities being moved across the Salalah quays being limestone, gypsum, methanol and cement. The container terminal recorded a throughput of 2.56 million teu, compared with 2.79 million teu in the equivalent period of 2017, due to what the Port of Salalah calls a ‘very challenging business environment’, which was exacerbated by the damage caused by the cyclone.
The financial impact of the downturn in container traffic is reflected in a net loss of OR 1.9 million, whereas in the first 9 months of 2017, Salalah Port achieved profit of OR 2.76 million. GCT revenues were up by 24% over the first 9 months of the year, while container terminal income decreased by 11%.
According to Ahmed Bin Nasser Al Mahrizi, Salalah Port chairman, “Overcapacity in regional ports, many of which are already ultra large container vessel capable, require Port of Salalah to evaluate options to upgrade its capability. We need to focus on the diversification of our customers and product portfolio to mitigate the risk associated with developing over dependencies in any one area.”
With regards to the General Cargo Terminal, the prospects are more optimistic. Mr. Al Mahrizi adds, “Gypsum exports have continued to grow, as well as other local commodities, including grains, liquids and cement. The widely expected resumption of US economic sanctions on Iran will have a positive boost for exports from Salalah, as Iran has been a stiff competitor for many of the same commodities. The main challenge for the terminal will be to grow efficiency and productivity to keep up with demand.”
Port of Salalah has recently taken delivery of a new mobile shiploading system, which it expects to commission later this year for use at the General Cargo Terminal. The new equipment is expected to help improve boost productivity and further steps to modernise operations at the terminal are under review.