Last Thursday, the State Trading Organization (STO) sealed a partnership with one of the Middle East’s leading trading entities, Urbacon Trading and Contracting of Qatar, to pave the way for a bunkering facility in Ihavandhippolhu. This initiative is a crucial component of the anticipated port city venture in the area.
At the heart of the proposed port city in Ihavandhippolhu is the objective to establish a national strategic reserve for oil and kickstart international bunkering services. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on the 10th of August sketches a collaborative effort between STO and Urbacon, with the aim of conducting feasibility studies for both the bunkering initiative and the national oil reserves.
Situated strategically on both the eastern and western maritime pathways, the Ihavandhippolhu Atoll stands as a significant nautical junction in the Indian Ocean. With a daily traffic of over 300 substantial cargo ships, and with the global bunkering industry appraised at $150 billion, a primary goal of this endeavour is to debut bunkering services in this crucial region.
This initiative is set to cascade benefits not just to STO but to the wider nation. This venture promises to significantly amplify the nation’s maritime sector, enveloping facets such as shipping agency tasks, crew shifts, vessel transitions, repairs, and parts provision.
In preparation for this venture, draft regulations have been diligently shaped with insights from international technical advisors. This move seeks to create a comprehensive regulatory framework for emerging bunkering services.
Integral to the project’s implementation are rigorous studies to shield the fragile Maldivian environment. Active dialogues with the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) are also ongoing to ensure the procurement and deployment of all essential protective measures and apparatus.