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FEATURE: Making a Mark - the new CEO of SOHAR

by ASC Staff on Apr 14, 2017

Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO, SOHAR Port & Freezone.
Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO, SOHAR Port & Freezone.

For Mark Geilenkirchen, globalisation is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is what allows the impressive growth of Sohar Port & Freezone, and on the other, it is the enabler of major market knocks that have the potential to disrupt that growth. “It's certainly the general level of financial uncertainty and volatility in the world today. On one side, it is globalisation that is the main driving force behind many of our port-related and logistics businesses at Sohar, but on the other hand, it's a big challenge,” he says when asked what his greatest concern is as the new CEO. “Uncertainty in one part of the world can quickly affect another part. For example, just look at the recent turmoil in the Asian financial markets after the UK's decision to leave the European Union.”

During 2016, however, Sohar Port has fared very well against these headwinds. As this issue of Logistics Middle East went to print, the port announced defiant growth in container cargo and general cargo tonnage. Container volumes at Sohar Port increased by 11% in the third quarter, compared to the same period in 2015, while overall tonnage at the port was up by more than 6%, reaching 13.4 million metric tonnes; or an average of over one million tonnes of cargo throughput each week. This news came just a few weeks after DP World announced that container volumes at its flagship Jebel Ali Port had taken a hit. In the United Arab Emirates, DP World handled 3.6 million TEU, down 5.9 percent from a year earlier.

“Sohar is one of the world’s fastest growing port and free zone developments and is really establishing itself as the region’s challenger brand,” says Geilenkirchen. “We’re well-located outside the Strait of Hormuz with an adjacent freezone, which is the biggest key to our success.” At the time of writing, Sohar Port had just opened its new container terminal. Terminal C features remote-controlled quayside cranes equipped to handle the next generation of 20,000 TEU container vessels, Geilenkirchen says that this expansion is in large part driven by the fact that, despite container vessels growing in size, the port is seeing more port calls. There has been concern among port operators that larger ships and more alliances might lead to fewer ships bringing in larger consignments of cargo, putting port equipment under pressure spikes.

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