Fujairah opened a US$175 million jetty on Wednesday, giving it the capacity to berth very large crude carriers (VLCCs), the most common class of oil-carrying supertankers.
The opening of the new facility marks another milestone in the development of the Indian Ocean port as a regional oil trading hub, which is a strategic national objective for the UAE.
In the past decade, the port has tripled its berths to nine and increased shipping traffic more than eight-fold, with the port handling more than 2,200 vessels last year.
Onshore storage capacity has increased twenty-fold in the past two decades to 10 million cubic tonnes and the port operator has plans to increase that to 14 million cubic tonnes by 2020, said Captain Mousa Murad, the Port of Fujairah general manager.
“The next objectives will be to enter into petrochemicals” and liquefied natural gas [LNG], said Capt Murad, referring to plans for a 200,000 barrels-per-day refining complex and mooring facilities – now completed – that will allow ships carrying LNG to transfer cargo from ship to ship.
The VLCC Kelly, part of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company fleet, was moored at the jetty on Wednesday, to mark its opening.
Although Kelly did not contain a cargo of crude, it was a symbolic show of support by the Abu Dhabi government, along with the attendance of Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE energy minister, who joined Fujairah’s Ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi.
The new VLCC capacity “is integral to supporting the UAE’s energy demands and keeping pace with what is an intensely competitive sector”, said Sheikh Saleh bin Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Fujairah’s industry and economy minister and chairman of the port.
The development of Fujairah, which began commercial operations in the 1980s, has increased pace the past few years, particularly with the $3.3 billion, 380-kilometre Habshan-Fujairah crude pipeline, which came on-stream four years ago and has the capacity to move up to 1.8 million bpd of Abu Dhabi’s daily 3 million bpd output.
The pipeline and port was designed to increase the UAE’s energy security and access to export markets by bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, which has faced security threats in the past. Moving crude up to Fujairah is also estimated by Adnoc to save shipping costs of about $38,000 per day.
The pipeline is owned by Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company, which is also expected to announce the South Korean winner of the major engineering contract to build the 200,000 bpd refinery at Fujairah soon.
Capt Murad said he expects the long-delayed decision to be forthcoming now that Ipic has announced its merger with Mubadala Development Corporation, another of Abu Dhabi’s strategic investment companies.
The port is already the world’s second-largest bunkering hub for ships to fuel up and the ambition is that it will one day rival Singapore, given its geographical advantage to serve growing markets in the Middle East, Africa and India, which is adding oil importation capacity at a faster rate now than China.
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