Would you identify the key milestones in the development of the Port of Fujairah over the past 30 years? What have been the main factors driving the growth of the port?

The Fujairah port is a general-purpose port covering a variety of activities including: (i) maritime supply through the Fujairah Anchorage; (ii) general and project cargo; (iii) container; (iv) bulk cargo — predominately export aggregate; (v) oil; (vi) cruise vessels.

Initially it was predominately a container trans-shipment port catering for movements to the Inner Gulf and the subcontinent. As facilities at these destinations improved, the requirement for trans-shipment diminished. Container activity has now been franchised to DP World, who are better placed through their worldwide network of ports to develop potential.

From 2000 the export of gabbro (aggregate) to the Inner Gulf for building projects became significant. A bulk loader, capable of loading 2000 tonnes per hour, was installed in 2002. An additional loader with twice the loading rate will become operational in early 2011. It is expected that the export of gabbro, and potentially in increasing quantities limestone, will continue to be important exports from the emirate.

Throughout, the Fujairah Anchorage has benefited from the strategic position of the port and emirate. Originally established during the Iraq-Iran War, the Anchorage has grown progressively in commercial importance. It is a vital marine logistics hub supplying a range of services including provisions, spare parts, crew change and ship repair. Some 80 privately-owned supply vessels operate from the port covering these functions.

In the past ten years the numbers of calls have grown [significantly], from 4,830 in 2000 to 11,719 calls in 2010. Seventy-two per cent of the vessels calling in 2010 took bunkers. Fujairah is recognised internationally, alongside Singapore and Rotterdam, as one of the top three bunkering locations in the world.

Bunkering activity prompted the growth of independently-owned onshore storage, which in turn prompted trading activity, and Fujairah is now emerging as a recognised and internationally-important oil trading hub.

Can you assess the importance of the port to the economy of Fujairah and the UAE as a whole — in particular, the extent to which new businesses have been attracted to the emirate because of the port facilities, and the significance to the UAE of the recently completed oil and gas pipelines?

As a multipurpose port, the Fujairah port is ready to meet the requirements of the, as yet unfulfilled, industrial development potential of the emirate.

Strategically situated, the emirate has provided the location for a number of important Federal developments, as follows —

1. Desalination plants, using the Indian Ocean rather than the Inner Gulf;

2. Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline (ADCOP) — (a) transport of 1-1.5 million bpd via a 360-kilometre, 48-inch pipeline; (b) 12 million barrel storage; (c) three sub-sea pipelines; (d) a main pumping station; (e) an intermediate pump station; (f) three single-point mooring buoys for deep-water tank loading scheduled for completion in the first half of 2011; (g) a major refinery under consideration;

3. Strategic Grain Reserve — grain silos and load discharge arms on a dedicated berth on the Southern Breakwater Berths, scheduled for operation during 2011 with an initial storage capacity of 250,000 tonnes.

Fujairah having established itself as a multipurpose port, can you give some indication of the scale of the various businesses? How has having DP World, one of the world's largest port operators, managing the port enhanced operations?

The following figures apply: total general cargo of 211,748 metric tonnes (MT); total bulk cargo of 10,490,545 MT; and total oil products passing through land-based facilities of 33,923,603 MT. DPW has the franchise for all container activity and are developing medium-term possibilities.

How was the Port of Fujairah impacted by the global economic downturn? To what extent did the breadth of services, such as anchorage, mitigate the worst of the downturn?

The immediate impact of the downturn was the slowdown in building projects within the Gulf, which in turn reduced the demand for gabbro, both on the domestic and export front. This is now recovering. Otherwise, apart from an overall slowdown in potential industrial and commercial projects, the port with its marine and oil-related base was not severely affected.

However, we did come under pressure to accept long-stay lay-up vessels which were without employment in the downturn. This we resisted, protecting the integrity and efficiency of the anchorage and the service we provided to our customers.

What are the main challenges facing the port now? For instance, how compatible are Fujairah's ambitions to develop as a significant tourist destination with the emirate's rapidly-expanding industrial activities, many of which are closely related to the port facilities?

The prevention of pollution and ensuring safety and security are standard responsibilities for any port authority. In close liaison with other UAE authorities, these are priorities in the Port of Fujairah's approach to all maritime matters and environmental concerns.

With the growing importance of Fujairah as a strategic hub for the UAE as well as being well positioned to serve the rapidly developing economies of Asia, can you highlight the main expansion projects currently under way and those still in the planning process?

Firstly, oil product storage. As previously mentioned, commercial companies are moving towards increased storage facilities to cater for trading activity as well as bunkering activity.

At present there is approximately three million cubic metres of storage, 121 tanks. This is expected to increase to more than seven million cubic metres — 262 tanks — by the end of 2012.

The main participants are FRCL/Vitol, Vopak, GPS/Chemoil, Aurora, Aegean, Concord, Enoc, Emarat, Gulf Petrochem. Other parties are showing interest.

Secondly to meet this demand the port has expanded to the north (see the company website for details). Further oil berths, at least a minimum of a further 1,000 metres, are under active consideration. A master plan has been prepared covering a further 11 berths. Thirdly , land reclamation.

To cater for future projects, including a 200,000-500,000 barrels per day refinery currently that will complement the ADCOP project, 53 million metric tonnes have been blasted, transported and compacted to gain225 hectares from the sea.