Shell to launch bunker operations in UAE and Oman

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By Humeyra Pamuk www.dailystar.com.lb

DUBAI: Royal Dutch Shell will launch bunker operations at the United Arab Emirates’ Jebel Ali port in mid-2011 and aims to expand its marine fuel business in the Middle East over the next three to five years, a senior executive said.

The oil major, which operates in more than 800 ports around the world, will set up a barge in the busy oil blending center and will offer fuels and lubricants to vessels both on a long-term contract and on a spot basis.

“It is going to be one of the highest capacity barges worldwide for lubricants as well as fuels,” Moustafa Khater, the regional business optimization manager at Shell Marine Products, told Reuters Tuesday.

The company is currently delivering only lubricants to the Jebel Ali port using trucks.

“In the next three to five years, Shell is looking at being an integral part of the marine products and services segment in Jebel Ali,” Khater said in an emailed response to questions.

But he declined to give a figure for the capacity of the barge or precise figures for the level of investment and targeted volumes.

“By early next year, we will be placing offers to our customers and partners for longer-term contracts for fuels and lubricants and shall also target new customers who might be interested in our upcoming activity in Jebel Ali,” he said.

Shell says that customers want to reduce the time and costs of refueling and that the company plans to offer an integrated package of fuels and lubricants from the same delivery vessel to meet that demand.

The company has made new hires for this launch and is looking to employ more people toward the end of the year, Khater said, without providing an exact number of likely recruits.

In addition to the UAE, the company is also eyeing other locations in the Middle East as possible locations for an expansion of its bunker operations.

“Fuel and gas oil sales are also planned for the Port of Sohar in Oman very soon,” Khater said, without giving an exact date.

The company is already delivering lubricants in Oman.

“There is no doubt that the global economic downturn has posted some challenges in the past, but for Shell Marine Products, the Middle East represents one of our focal anticipated marine growth markets for fuels and lubricants,” he said.

The company is also aiming to boost its jet fuel sales in UAE as well.

In October, Shell’s aviation division signed an agreement to supply fuel at the new Al-Maktoum International Airport, which is planned to be the world’s largest with an estimated passenger capacity of 160 million per year when it becomes fully operational within the next 10 years.

Shell has been supplying fuel to airlines at Dubai International Airport for nearly 40 years.

“With the combination of Al-Maktoum Cargo Airport and Jebel Ali sea port, the area is steadily developing into a global logistics hub,” Khater said.

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