According to the bid documents, investors will need to create consortia able to handle onshore and offshore infrastructure works. The scope of works will cover extensive dredging and reclamation, port planning and construction, construction of residential and commercial facilities, installation of a power plant and water treatment facility and associated infrastructure works linking the port to the southern road and rail networks.

‘The project is huge and will eventually have 100 berths for roll-on, roll-off [ro-ro], containers, gathering centres [GCs], bulk and non-bulk cargo and heavy lift transportation facilities,’ a ministry spokesman told MEED on 28 September.

The scope of works for the first phase, which is expected to be completed within four years, covers core facilities of the greenfield port. Located at Ras al-Beasheh, southwest of the smaller harbour at Al-Faw on the southern coast, the port will cover an area of about 8.4 square kilometres. Phase 1 includes:

Bathymetric, topographic and seismic surveys and soil investigation;

Dredging and reclamation of about 42.5 million cubic metres of material;

Construction of 25 jetties with each pier serving four ships on both sides;

Construction of ferry and transport terminals, an oil product pier and an operation and control tower;

Construction of a 120-kilometre highway starting from the port and crossing the Khor al-Zubair channel to join the national highway at Sefwan;

Construction of an 80-kilometre railway link to Al-Marbad railway station at Khor al-Zubair;

Construction of a four-kilometre tunnel crossing the Khor al-Zubair channel;

Construction of general administrative buildings including a police station, fire station and medical centre;

Construction of residential, retail and leisure facilities, including housing units, a hotel and restaurants;

Construction of a power plant and water treatment plant.

The second phase will include more reclamation and dredging and the construction of 35 berths with storage yards.

Phase 3 will see the completion of all dredging and reclamation work and construction of 40 jetties.

Basra is connected by rail, via Baghdad, with Europe, and the construction of a new port will allow the transport of goods directly to the continent. Iraq’s harbours were badly affected by the two Gulf wars and UN sanctions, and are in desperate need of modernisation. The port will seek to attract traffic destined for the northern Gulf. However, it will have to compete with other nearby ports, notably the planned Bubiyan port in Kuwait.

The Transport Ministry plans toupgrade the country’s ports over the next 20 years. The plans include: a $250 million project to add 13 new berths at Umm Qasr; a $300 million project to add 15 new berths at Khor al-Zubair; a $450 million project to add a further 20 berths at Khor al-Zubair; and a $50 million project to add three berths at Mina Maqal.