Abu Dhabi Ports is planning to build an artificial island to the south of the existing container terminal at Khalifa Port that will cater exclusively to roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ships.

According to a company spokesperson, the reclamation work is expected to create 2.5 kilometres of berth dedicated to ships carrying wheeled cargo such as cars or trucks.

Autoterminal Khalifa Port, the joint venture of Abu Dhabi Ports and Barcelona-based Autoterminal, will operate the terminal under a 15-year concession agreement signed earlier this year.

The project is part of Abu Dhabi Port’s five-year expansion plan for Khalifa Port.

Other initiatives under the plan include the expansion of the existing container terminal from its current capacity of 2.5 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 5.3 million TEU by 2020.

The development and expansion of the terminal is covered by the 30-year concession agreement signed earlier this month between Abu Dhabi Ports and Swiss-based MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company.

Over the life of the agreement, MSC will invest AED4bn ($1.08bn) in operational equipment such as ship-to-shore cranes as well as in deepening the berths to enable the largest bulk cargo vessels to call at Khalifa Port.

A joint venture between Abu Dhabi Terminals, the current operator of Terminal 1, and MSC subsidiary Terminal Investment Limited (TIL) has also been formed. MEED understands the new entity will take over the operations and management of Terminal 1 shortly.

This agreement follows an earlier decision made by Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Company and Mubadala Infrastructure Partners to sell their combined 50 per cent equity in Abu Dhabi Terminals to Abu Dhabi Ports.

The concession agreement with MSC was signed roughly 20 months after Abu Dhabi Ports signed a 35-year concession agreement with China’s Cosco Shipping Ports to develop and operate a new container terminal, Terminal 2, at the port.

The contract with Cosco is renewable for a period of five years. Cosco will operate an initial 1,200 metres of quay and yard with a capacity of 2.4 million TEUs.

Last year, Abu Dhabi Ports received bids for the marine works package on the second container terminal. However, the contract award has been delayed and MEED understands Abu Dhabi Ports may be considering retendering the contract.

Terminal 2 is expected to become operational in the first half of 2019.

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