A mystery "sabotage" attack on four ships, including three oil tankers, off the UAE coast has highlighted the importance of Fujairah port located just outside the key Strait of Hormuz.
The port of the emirate of Fujairah, located on the eastern coast of the UAE, is about 180 kilometres from Abu Dhabi ─ the richest of the seven emirates with 90 per cent of the country's oil production.
It is 70 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz and 80 nautical miles from Iran's Jask port, on the opposite side of Gulf waters.
Fujairah is the only emirate in the oil-rich UAE that is located on the Arabian Sea, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened to close if a military confrontation with the United States erupts.
If the strait is closed, the UAE will be able to continue exporting oil from Fujairah, whose port would become a lifeline.
Fujairah has become a major player in the UAE's oil exports with two terminals, a pipeline from Abu Dhabi and a huge crude storage facility.
The 406-kilometre pipeline, owned by Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline Co (ADCOP), can carry over 600,000 barrels of crude oil from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah. The pipeline's capacity can go up to 1.6 million bpd in case of need.
Fujairah port has two oil terminals with a capacity to handle over 50m tonnes of oil a year. It can load Very Large Crude Containers (VLCC) and in 2016 it launched a new dock for supertankers.
The port has a huge oil storage facility with a capacity for 10m tonnes of crude oil, or around 70m barrels.
Abu Dhabi, which sits on a majority of oil reserves in UAE, has recently awarded a $1.2 billion contract for building a second storage area holding 42 million barrels.
Work on Fujairah port began in 1978 as part of plans to develop the UAE's economy. Operations began in 1983.
Ruler of Fujairah, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed al-Sharqi, said there are plans to boost port capacity “at the local, regional and global levels”, according to UAE state news agency Wam.
The port is a key platform for local and international companies, he said during a visit there.
“Especially since Fujairah port is strategically located outside the Strait of Hormuz on the open seas,” added Sheikh Hamad.