OICT’s CEO Lawrence Teo said, “We are encouraged by the visit of the MSC Baltic, which demonstrates OICT’s ability to handle sixth-generation container ships. There are more shipping lines taking advantage of Sohar’s strategic geographical location outside of the Strait of Hormuz, as well as OICT’s superior operational efficiency, for their transhipment business.”
The visit was the latest in a succession of ‘trial’ calls by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) container vessels. In August, the MSC Gianna visited OICT on a similar trial run during which it discharged nearly 1,100 teu for transhipment. The purpose of these calls is to evaluate Sohar’s suitability to serve as a potential hub for MSC’s regional transhipment business. MSC and other shipping lines are increasingly looking to Sohar as a solution to congestion problems at other ports. Over the past month, seven vessels have called at OICT for transhipment operations.
“By calling Sohar, which is outside the Arabian Gulf, a vessel saves two days of sailing time into the Upper Gulf, and a similar amount of time for the return leg. Besides saving on expensive charter rates, shipping lines can enjoy considerable savings in bunker fuel costs, which are presently at an all-time high. The overall savings to shipping lines can amount to several million dollars per annum per vessel,” said Teo.