Over the first quarter of 2020 the Port of Salalah saw a 28% increase in container throughput compared with the equivalent period of 2019. The port’s container terminal handled 1.17 million TEU in the first three months of the year, up from 912,000 TEU in the first quarter of 2019.
This upturn is primarily explained by the fact that last year the port was still recovering from the impact of Cyclone Mekuno. However Salalah points out that, despite a highly competitive market, it has managed to retain all its major customers, with its biggest user Maersk’s share of the business rising by 31% compared to the corresponding period of last year.
Salalah’s general cargo terminal maintained volumes at a similar level to last year in the first quarter, moving 4.35 million tonnes, up slightly from 4.32 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2019. The major commodities handled at the terminal included limestone, gypsum, methanol and cement, all exported from Salalah to nearby markets.
Despite the impact of Covid-19 on world trade, the immediate short term outlook for Salalah’s container terminal continues to be positive, the port says, due to the consolidation of several services at the Omani hub. However a statement from the port adds, “The medium to longer term outlook remains uncertain with the continued drop in global demand and supply chain disruption. We are closely working with our main customer to mitigate the potential drop in volumes through new value added services and supply chain support options.” The mitigation plans under consideration are expected to limit the impact on transshipment activity, which accounts for about 95% of overall volume at Salalah.
Prospects for the general cargo terminal appear less bright. Commodities such as gypsum and limestone, which are feedstock for cement and steel production, are expected to see a significant drop in demand in India and South East Asia.