Interview with Durar Logistics, a Coop member in Damman, Saudi Arabia

An insider’s guide to ISO tank logistics

“Risk assessment prior to execution is compulsory when transporting inflammable or toxic liquids through populated areas, since people are exposed to undue risk in the event of an untoward incident.”

The Cooperative Damman - Tank international logistics
The Cooperative Damman – Tank international logistics

Durar logistics LLC is in the ISO tank business since they started their operations in 2016, as they are now considered as a veritable expert in the field of petrochemical logistics.

It can’t be denied that the tank business is one of those logistics sectors that will keep its growth rate intact in the future. According to QY Research, the value of the global ISO Tank Container market was $790 m in 2018 and they expect it to reach $1580 m by the end of 2025.

Durar logistics LLC, a Coop member in Damman, Saudi Arabia, is in the ISO tank business since they started their operations in 2016. As a veritable expert in the field of petrochemical logistics, today they are going to immerse us in the world of tank containers.

Tanks containers were invented to serve the bulky transportation of chemical liquid and these tanks are specially designed to meet various chemical classifications. ISO tanks enable inter-modal logistics between various modes of transportation including sea vessels, trucks, and rails. These tanks comply with the International Organization for Standardization and are meant to transport bulk fluids that can be hazardous or non-hazardous”, explains Mahmood Samman, the Project Director of Durar Logistics.

ISO tanks are often made of stainless steel and have a life of at least two years carrying corrosive chemicals. Regarding its advantages, Mr. Mahmoud is clear on the fact that, “They are a safe and reliable mode of transport for moving bulk liquids around the world. They also offer greater flexibility in planning and helps in cost reduction”.

The most challenging part in tank shipping is the safety of dangerous goods and the regulations of handling
procedure. Every commodity is required to follow the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and Technical Data
Sheet (TDS).

“Even though Tank Containers are very safe, Mr. Mammoud talks about the procedures that are required before transporting liquid chemicals in tank containers. “Risk assessment prior to execution is compulsory when transporting some inflammable or toxic liquids through populated areas since people are exposed to undue risk in the event of an untoward incident. For this reason, risk assessment is of primary importance”.

“This is precisely why I believe that the most challenging part in ISO tank shipping is the safety of dangerous goods and the regulations of handling procedure. Every commodity is required to follow the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and Technical Data Sheet (TDS) so as to understand the nature and ensure regulatory compliance. That is why we do emphasize the technical part of the commodity along with the classification of MSDS to define the exposure of hazardous substances and abide by the liners regulations at both the origin and destination countries. Our freight booking is placed on the basis of product classification and regulations.”

Due to all the challenges and risks that are involved in this industry, “IATA Certification is required when moving this kind of shipments. Moreover, Dangerous Goods Regulation (DGR) will guide on how to transport dangerous goods safely and efficiently, while providing insight on several technical aspects such as the materials applications, classification, packing instruction, packaging specification, documentation, handling of radioactive materials, best practices for environment safety etc. In order to improve workforce qualification a constant training in HSSE program is recommended.” says Mr. Samman.

In the last five years, Durar Logistics has handled several delicate shipments. Mr. Samman narrates one such story about a complicated shipment, “Over the years we have encountered several problematic shipments. Once during the transit of one ISO tank, we encountered a leaking tank condition and we had to work in conjunction with the liner and the local agent to escalate the case and enforce the recovery procedure. The tank was held at the port for further recovery and survey procedure by the third party approved surveyor, and it was closely handled with the assistance of other parties to discharge the materials safely and replace the ISO tank and allow further movement to the consignee port.”

Regarding the competition, as the Middle East region continues to see significant growth in the use of tank containers, “it goes without saying that the competition among forwarders here is stiff. Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is a city known for oil & chemical liquid supply locally and over the world, and freight companies specializing in this field are competing to prove their worth to sustain long-term projects. The most important characteristic of the service provider in this sector is the commitment to the corporate standards that is a pre-requisite for obtaining important contracts. Consequently, what sets us apart from the competition is that we have been carrying out businesses with governmental entities and private chemical manufacturers regularly via our group’s umbrella organization in Dammam. Since the last few years, we are focusing more on the core of chemical engineering and their expertise and know-how in this field keep them ahead of their competitors.”

The digitalization will be the key in the chemicals sector, the value chains are being reconfigured as sustainability, economic and geopolitical trends; new technologies and changing consumer demands are on the freight forwarders’ agendas.

However, in 2020, like in every business sector, the pandemic has also impacted the ISO shipping sector. “COVID-19 has directly affected production and the demand and disrupted the supply chain market. Its economic impact on firms and financial markets greatly impacted the normal functioning of the chemical and tank industry.”

As for the future, Mr. Samman is clear about this: “The digitization is going to be the key in the chemicals sector. The value chains are being reconfigured as sustainability, economic and geopolitical trends, new technologies, and changing consumer demands are challenging the bottom line of the companies and their future profitability.The Coronavirus has added even more complexity to our business. I believe the chemical logistics companies will need to redefine their value chains and business models to adapt to the circular economy, while capturing the opportunities from digital technology, and upskilling their workforce”.