The $390m port project has been mired in confusion for months, after four firms submitted bids in January to design and supervise its expansion.

Since then, Australia’s WorleyParsons, India’s Consulting Engineering Services, Egypt’s Hamza Associates and the UK’s Atkins have heard almost nothing about the project, which was intended to increase container capacity at the port from 280,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 1 million TEUs (MEED 29:1:08).

“We have stopped the original project to expand the port onsite,” says one official at the Transport & Communications Ministry.

“It was not going to work as planned. We are now looking at alternative designs. There are ideas about new projects onsite at Sultan Qaboos, or moving to a new site. No decision has yet been taken but we expect to issue a new set of tenders soon.”

The client on the project is Oman’s Port Services Corporation (PSC), which has been acting for the ministry. PSC has declined to comment on the bidding process and the bidders themselves have not received official clarification.

“We understand that the original plan has been dropped and we are now hearing that we can expect another tender soon,” says an official at one of the bidders.

In June, it emerged that the four bids had come in well above the PSC’s anticipated budget.