The outlook for Oman's shipping sector remains mixed and reflects its main ports' specialisation. The port of Salalah is expected to post another year of strong growth and historic highs in total tonnage helped by increased demand for the limestone and gypsum it handles, while box volumes at the country's top container facility will endure another year of decline in 2015, affected by decreasing transhipment.
The port of Sohar, however, will enjoy growth both in terms of total and container throughput, largely due to the transfer of operations from Sultan Qaboos, although continued investment into new dry bulk industries will also prompt growth.
Over the medium term we project further growth at the port of Sohar and total throughput growth at the port of Salalah, while container volumes at Salalah will continue declining. However, despite the at-times challenging outlook, Oman continues to invest in its maritime facilities.
Headline Industry Data
2015 port of Sohar tonnage throughput forecast to grow around 4%, over the medium term we project a 22% increase.
2015 port of Salalah container throughput forecast to contract by 4%, over the medium term we project a 5% decrease.
2015 total trade growth forecast at 3.9%.
Key Industry Trends
Salalah Pessimistic on Box Transhipment, Bullish on Total Throughput: A large amount of government-driven port developments in the region and the corresponding increase in port capacity 'are cause for concern', according to the Port of Salalah Annual Report, with shipping lines at the same time 'working to form alliances to reduce operating costs and this reduces transhipments'. Despite the port believing that its strategic location and service levels 'will remain an important factor in customer choice', it nevertheless expects the reduction in box throughput seen in recent years to accelerate. At the same time further growth in limestone and gypsum handling due to increased demand for these cargoes, is expected to drive total...