Bunkering services at Ihavandhippolhu in Haa Alifu (HA.) Atoll will be officially launched within the next month, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mohamed Saeed has confirmed.

The State Trading Organization (STO) had, on 13 March, entered into an agreement with the Vitol Group, the world’s preeminent energy trader, to establish an international bunkering facility in the Maldives’ northernmost atoll.

According to Saeed, speaking during a People’s National Congress (PNC) gathering, STO has already purchased two tankers and was working on the project in collaboration with the MNDF, and Immigration and Customs — an assessment, in terms of additional equipment and environmental surveys, had also been undertaken, with work now ongoing.

“STO announced the jobs of 40 people about three weeks ago… the administration will officially launch the bunkering service in the north within a month,” Saeed said.

He also shed light on some of the changes the administration expects will come about due to the project.

Saeed said that the bunkering project, by the end of July next year, will add US$400 million [MVR 6 billion] to the Maldives’ GDP and will also revive small businesses and create many job opportunities.

“I am only talking about bunkering. Now we have started offshore. The President has announced that a permanent international fuel storage terminal will be established within the Maldives Economic Gateway,” Saeed added.