Dubai: Oman's government has signed an memorandum of understanding with the Port of Salalah for the construction and operating of three additional deepwater container berths, which will give the port a total of nine berths totalling 3,555 metres in length.

Berth 7-9 is the first stage of Terminal 2 and will encompass 1,350 metres quay wall and add additional three million TEU (20 foot container equivalent unit) to the annual capacity. Berth 7 is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2011, with berth 8 and 9 scheduled for completion in 2012.

Gary Lemke, chief executive of the port , said: "The signing of this MoU is a clear indication of the government's intent to be at the forefront of regional port development and will enable the Port of Salalah to keep up with the growing demands and allow us to meet our customer's expectations as a modern and efficient terminal."

Terminal 1 comprises six berths along 2,205 metres of linear berth operated with 17 Super Post-Panamax gantry cranes. Additional eight Super Post-Panamax cranes and four mobile harbour cranes are on order. With delivery of the new equipment the capacity of berth 1-6 increases from 4.5 to 6 million TEU.

The port will with completion of berth 7-9 bring the total annual capacity to nine million TEU with a total berth length of 3,555 metres.

Located in southern Oman at the Indian Ocean rim and right at the main shipping route between Asia and Europe, the port last year handled more 2.6 million TEU and 2.8 million tonnes bulk and general cargo at its terminals. The port is a joint venture between Oman, AP Moller-Maersk Group and other Omani investors. The port is managed and operated by APM Terminals.