The Port of Fujairah expects its tank storage capacity for petroleum products to rise 75 per cent by 2020 as more companies build such facilities.
The port’s tank storage capacity, which is expected to touch 8 million cubic metres by the end of this year, will reach 14 million cubic metres by the end of the decade, said Mousa Murad, the general manager, yesterday.
He was speaking at the inauguration of the Black Pearl, the seventh expansion phase of storage by tank operator Vopak Horizon Fujairah.
The phase, which is 35 per cent complete, will add 480,000 cubic metres to Vopak’s current 2.1 million cubic metres capacity by the summer of next year.
“Some customers think there is a real business for them here in trans-shipping crude through Fujairah and that’s the reason why we have facilitated them with building some capacity for them,” said Frank Erkelens, the president of Vopak Europe Middle East and Africa.
The five new tanks will be the first for crude oil in Fujairah, which currently only has storage for refined products, said Mr Murad.
The Port of Fujairah is building a jetty to receive very large crude carriers (VLCCs) which will help to lift crude from the new crude oil tanks being built by Vopak.
Vopak is owned by the government of Fujairah, the Rotterdam-based tank operator Royal Vopak, the Dubai-based Emirates National Oil Co, and Kuwait’s Independent Petroleum Group.
Besides Vopak, other companies are also interested in building tanks to store crude, said Mr Murad.
“They [tank operators] are studying and considering building special tanks for crude,” said Mr Murad.
“If that happens and the studies are feasible, they will approach us to build another VLCC jetty. We might hear from them by the end of this year.”
Port of Fujariah is also banking on a 200,000 barrel per day refinery being built by Abu Dhabi government owned Ipic to help to produce petrochemicals.
“What we have in mind is that when the new refinery is going to be in operation, hopefully by 2018, that will add another thing to Fujairah, which is petrochemicals,” said Mr Murad.
Vopak is also keen to expand its operations further in Fujairah, which is one of the world’s top bunkering hubs. Vopak could build storage tanks for liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the Port of Fujairah, where Abu Dhabi-based investment firms Ipic and Mubadala plan to build an LNG import terminal by 2018.
“We are looking at all opportunities to grow our business in LNG,” said Mr Erkelens. “If the parties that are interested to develop that [LNG import terminal in Fujairah] would be interested in teaming up with us, we would look at it.”
Separately, Vopak is investing in expanding a chemical storage facility in Saudi Arabia in a joint venture with Saudi Basic Industries Corp (Sabic), one of the world’s biggest petrochemical companies.
Vopak currently manages a facility that stores about 1.4 million cubic metres of chemicals, but is planning to invest in its expansion.
“We, in partnership with Sabic, are expanding our chemical storage capacity there with 220,000 cubic metres in the first phase and [there] might be a second phase adding another 300,000 cubic metres in Jubail,” said Mr Erkelens.
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter