A Belgian-Emirati joint venture (JV) has been awarded a $24m (OMR9.24m) contract by Oman’s Sohar Port and Free Zone.

The contract will see the development of the first 50ha of usable land within the port expansion, expected to be completed in Q4 2018, according to ONA.

The JV comprises Belgium-based marine engineering firm Dredging International NV, and Abu Dhabi contractor, Earth Moving Worldwide.

READ: Sohar Port and Freezone records 36% container traffic growth

Development of Sohar Port South requires extensive land reclamation work. When the project is completed, around 2km² of land will have been added to the present capacity of the port, which stands at 20km² today.

EMW group director, Yves Aertssen, said: "Sohar Port is currently one of major ports in the Middle East, a focal harbour that links the Far East with the Arab Region.

"The expansion of the port’s planned infrastructure is a key factor that will continue to support the rapidly growing logistics sector in the sultanate."

Chief executive officer of Sohar Port and Free Zone, Mark Geilenkirchen, said: “This expansion is essential for Sohar to compete on a larger scale, and highlights our emergence as a logistics hub of choice within the Middle East.

"The added land area at the port will significantly boost the cargo traffic and will create fresh job opportunities for Omanis. Investors are lining up to take advantage of the additional space being offered as part of the Sohar Port South development,” he added

In September 2017, Sohar Port and Singapore-based oil trader Trescorp signed a $600m (OMR230m) deal to develop a 45ha terminal for the handling, storage, and blending of crude oil, fuel oil, and diesel at the Omani port.

The venture between Trescorp and Sohar requires 25m deep-water sea berths created to safely handle big oil tankers, which can carry hundreds of thousands of tonnes of cargo.