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Fujairah port's throughput returns to 'normal' after COVID-19 hit

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Dubai — Throughput at the UAE's Fujairah has bounced back to levels before COVID-19 slammed business in April, after hitting a record high in February, according to Martijn Heijboer, the port's business development manager.

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May volume picked up after a 25%-30% plunge in April and by August and September throughput was "back at our normal levels, where we left it basically in Q1," Heijboer said in a Gulf Intelligence interview published online on Oct. 21.

"That shows Fujairah is well positioned and provides the right services to cater for this and come back online quickly after such a crisis." The pandemic had "very little" impact on bunkering at the port, he said, though it is not growing at the moment, he said. He did not provide figures.

Fujairah is developing an oil and trading hub, with national oil companies Saudi Aramco already based there and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. trading derivatives and developing Murban crude futures. The port has capacity to store 40 million barrels of oil products and about 20 million barrels of crude oil.

"There is a lot more potential for crude storage in Fujairah," Yusr Sultan Al Junaidy, managing director of ENOC's Horizon Terminals, said in the interview. "Production is steady and demand has fallen. That is something Fujairah can build on."

Fujairah should also expand into LNG, he said, adding that Horizon was interested in investing in LNG and developing it at Fujairah.

"It is very positive that everyone is really seeing the value of having a base out of Fujairah," Junaidy said. "You can attract everyone, you can keep them there only if you make the effort to keep costs reasonable and within the market."

The port reports weekly oil products inventories, and is looking to offer more data on bunkering and other commodities, Heijboer said.

"We are indeed currently studying this to see what else can we or would we like to share with the market on a weekly or monthly basis," he said. "We are working on it in the coming weeks with our partners."

Fujairah oil products inventories hit a nine-month low as of Oct. 12, according to the Fujairah Oil Industry Zone. The decline occurred as consumption picked up after some economies picked up, Junaidy said. "We still see weakness in the aviation sector and that is global."

Gulf Petrochem, also known as GP Global and which is restructuring, has put its terminal in Fujairah up for sale.

"We know there are many parties interested" in buying the terminal, Heijboer said. "This is a matter of time" before a deal closes. He said the terminal was not in use.