The contract is part of SPA’s project to increase container handling capacity to 1.9 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from the current 850,000 TEUs. It also entails construction of six new berths, dredging of the existing channel to 16 metres from 14 metres and installation of eight 40-tonne gantry cranes. ‘Our revenue is growing by an average of 12 per cent a year and in 2005, total earnings from stevedoring were SR 424.8 million ($113.2 million),’ SPA’s director of commercial contracts Abdalshaheed al-Sunni told MEED on 7 February. ‘We plan to complete the expansion within a year and will then move on to issuing tenders for a new container terminal with capacity of 2 million TEUs.’

The new facility, capable of handling super-post-Panamax vessels, will be located adjacent to the existing container terminal and will be built over a 60-hectare site. The project will be offered on a 30-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, with planned investment of at least SR 500 million ($133.3 million). The existing terminal is being operated by International Ports Services, a joint venture of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Port Holdings Group and the local Al-Balagha Group.

UK-based Bruce White prepared the original masterplan.