State Trading Organisation (STO) has joined forces with Qatar’s Urbacon Trading and Contracting to set up a bunkering facility within the ambitious port city development project on Ihavandhippolhu, the northernmost atoll of the Maldives.

The agreement was inked between STO and Urbacon on Thursday evening, paving the way for comprehensive feasibility studies that will guide the establishment of bunkering services and a national strategic oil reserve.

Located at a crossroads of the Indian Ocean’s principal east and west shipping lanes, Ihavandhippolhu witnesses the daily passage of over 300 large vessels. With the global bunkering industry boasting a staggering value of US$150 billion, the initiative, led by STO, aspires to introduce bunkering services to the region, promising wide-ranging benefits for the entire country. The maritime sector and its associated businesses, such as shipping agencies, crew management, ship handling, repair facilities, and provision of spare parts, are poised to experience substantial enhancements.

STO and Urbacon Trading & Contracting executives, along with Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail, pose for a photo after signing the MoU (Photo: STO)

Recognising the potential environmental implications, the project has engaged international technical consultants to ensure meticulous execution. At the same time, regulations are being drawn up to establish a robust regulatory framework for commencing bunkering services. The venture will be undertaken with the guidance of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, STO expressed its enthusiasm for the transformative potential of the collaboration. The company’s stated: “Today, we are forming a partnership that has the potential to transform the future of Bodu Thiladhunmathi and the Maldives economy as a whole.”

This endeavour, as the initial component of the broader port city development, marks the commencement of an intricate journey aimed at fostering economic prosperity, STO said.