Dilmun Navigation Company 1960-90s

Dubai has never had its own Oil Refinery despite the discovery of oil and becoming an oil producer. Dubai has always relied on external sources for its refined oil products.- Avgas for its airport - petroleum for its cars - diesel for its trucks, machinery and ships - lubricants of all kinds - bitumen for its roads.
With the regional lack of roads and railways there was only one way to transport these products to Dubai - by sea.
A fleet of "Little Ships" operated for over 30 years bringing these much needed products to Dubai.

Origins of Dilmun Navigation Company

Gray Mackenzie and Company (Bahrain) bought several small ships from P & O Shipping Company in 1958 to start a cargo shipping service in the Gulf region. These sturdy little ships had been built in Holland, designed for European conditions. Dilmun Navigation Company was established to manage and operate these ships. Later the Company became part of the international conglomerate Inchcape Group. This fleet of "Little Ships" comprised general cargo ships, oil tankers and bitumen carriers. They plied regularly between the Gulf Ports carrying oil products from Bahrain and Damman around the Gulf. They became a familiar part of both Dubai Creek and Port Rashid.

Refuelling Dubai Airport by Sea

It is strange to think now that, in the past, Dubai Airport depended on the sea for its existence. But that is a fact! Fuel used to refuel aircraft at Dubai Airport was brought to Dubai by sea in Dilmun Navigation Tankers and discharged at a Jetty in Port Rashid. This fuel was pumped ashore through a pipeline into storage tanks located just outside Port Rashid. From there the fuel flowed to Dubai Airport via an underground pipeline where it was stored and sold to any aircraft needing refueling. This arrangement was still operating in the early 1990s.

Dilmun Navigation supports Dubai's Oil Industry

By late 1960s Dubai was starting to invest in its offshore oil industry. McDermotts had set up a Fabrication Yard on the Creekside by Al Maktoum Bridge. Workboats supporting the burgeoning offshore industry needed fuel so BP Oil built an Oil Storage Facility next to McDermotts Yard and the old BOAC Jetty. Dilmun Navigation Tanker Ships brought fuel oil from refineries in Damman and Bahrain.