The UAE’s Fujairah port, which is coming off a record year in terms of liquid bulk throughput, is closer to a major expansion of its crude oil storage capacity in 2022 at the same time refineries are planning additions.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co is building underground caverns in Fujairah to store 42 million barrels of oil, with completion set for 2022. Two other UAE companies — Ecomar Energy Solutions and Brooge Petroleum — are investing in storage and refining facilities in the UAE, while the national Etihad Rail is building a link to the Port of Fujairah that could boost container shipping activity. Uniper Energy DMCC, one of three refineries at the port, may also boost its refinery output.

The port probably set record liquid bulk throughput volume in 2021 despite the constraints of the pandemic, it said said. Total crude and product volumes handled at the port exceeded 120 million mt in 2020, up from around 110 million mt in 2019.

The total figure includes volumes at the port’s own Fujairah Oil Tanker Terminals, or FOTT, ADNOC’s three single point moorings, the VOPAK Horizon jetty, as well as ship-to-ship transactions, floating storage and bunkering at the anchorage.

Etihad Rail has said it has completed nine tunnels in the Fujairah mountains, with plans to reach Fujairah, without giving a timeline. Stage one started in 2016 and carries sulphur from Abu Dhabi emirate’s Shah to Habshan and Ruwais regions.

Fujairah, with its strategic position outside the volatile Strait of Hormuz, has risen rapidly in the last two decades to become the third-largest global bunkering port after Singapore and Rotterdam.

At the free zone, just north of the main city, the landscape between the rugged mountains and the ocean is dominated by rows of tall, cylindrical oil tanks on both sides of the highway.

Uniper Energy DMCC, which operates one of three refineries at the port, is planning to operate as normal for 2022, although there is “potential for slightly increased production and therefore slightly more supply going forward,” the company said.

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10th January 2022