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Sohar Port in Oman to use B20 marine biofuel in all tugboat operations

Photo: Sohar Port and Freezone

Sohar Port, a 50/50 joint venture between the government of Oman and the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, announced June 3 that it has become one of the first ports in the Middle East ever to use biofuel bunkering in tugboat operations.


After receiving its first delivery of biofuel, the bunkering with B20 (a mixture of 80% diesel and 20% biofuel), which began as trial for Tug Sohar, is now set to be extended to all tugboats at the port.


In line with global trends aimed at enhancing marine sustainability and reducing carbon emissions, Oman’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, in collaboration with its strategic partners in Omani ports, is working towards developing strategic plans to transition to green mobility and achieve carbon neutrality in Oman by 2050.


Sohar Port said it is pioneering the use of marine biofuel and plans to expand the project to include locomotives in July.


The port has also collaborated with tugboats operator Svitzer, biofuel supplier Wakud and bunker service provider Hormuz Marin.


“Marine operation is the main contributor to our greenhouse-gas emissions, which has increased relative to the port’s growth through the direct emissions of fuel consumption in tugboat operations,” said Emile Hoogsteden, the CEO of Sohar Port. “Implementing biofuel in our marine operation will significantly reduce Sohar Port’s scope on emissions and keep us firmly on the path to support Oman’s wider environmental vision on the path to net zero. With the help of our partners in this initiative, with whom we could not have achieved such a landmark moment, we have set new environmental standards for the region and beyond.”


Engineer Abdullah bin Ali Al Busaidi, an expert of the zero-carbon neutrality team at the government of Oman’s TCIT ministry, highlighted that the ministry is collaborating with the various government agencies on the 18 carbon laboratory initiatives.


“The ministry has developed a clear and comprehensive roadmap for the development of green ports, including multiple projects to reduce emissions, transitioning equipment to operate on electrical energy and smart systems, connect ships to electrical power, and establish a regional center for supplying ships with clean fuel,” he said. “We are working with the concerned entities … and the private sector to address upcoming challenges such as pricing differences between biofuel and conventional fuel.”


Al Busaidi elaborated that the private sector has also identified key raw materials for the biofuel industry, focusing on waste cooking oils used in restaurants and shops.


Additionally, Sultan Qaboos University in collaboration with Petroleum Development Oman Co. have made great strides where they have operated a Mwasalat bus powered by date-palm biodiesel.


“We are proud that Svitzer is collaborating with Sohar Port on this important initiative,” said Deniz Kirdar True, the managing director for Svitzer in the region.  “Svitzer has been providing safe and reliable marine services to customers in Sohar Port for many years, and in Sohar Port, we have found a partner who shares our ambitious decarbonization goals and is willing to do things differently. This innovative project is an excellent example of how we can use our experience and learnings from operations in other parts of the world to support customers and other stakeholders locally in their efforts to reduce environmental impact.”


Sulaiman Alhadhrami, CEO of Hormuz Marine, said, “Working with Sohar Port for the first biofuel bunker supply in Oman is a significant move toward emissions reduction and sustainability in the maritime industry. While marine gas oil remains necessary in the short term, gradually increasing biofuel usage will lead to substantial greenhouse-gas emissions savings. This transition aligns with global efforts to combat climate change and demonstrates a commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable future in shipping.”


Biofuel bunkering will contribute to decreasing the company’s greenhouse-gas emissions towards an initial target of 17 percent, in line with Oman’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050.


In this project, marine biofuel is sourced from used cooking oil. 


The project is part of Sohar Port and Freezone’s mission to accelerate the transition to the circular economy thereby bolstering economic development in Oman.


This includes the conservation of natural resources as a cornerstone to sustainable development, with a fundamental goal to use existing resources as much as feasible, aligning with Oman Vision 2040’s goal to achieve sustainable development and foster economic competitiveness.



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