It is the second big contract win in the kingdom for the company in recent months, and provides further evidence of the increasing influence of Chinese companies across the region.

The Chinese group fought off competition from Belgium’s Dred-ging International with the local Huta Group, and a joint venture of the Dutch Royal Boskalis Westminster with Geneva-registered Archirodon Construction (Overseas).

China Harbour has partnered with the local Rafid Group on the project to form China Harbour Engineering Arabia Company.

The client, the Saudi Port Authority, has issued a letter of intent to China Harbour for the engineering, procurement and construction contract, with the official signing ceremony expected on 15 January.

The three groups submitted bids in July 2007 and the contract was originally expected to be awarded in August that year. However, a series of technical and commercial issues have delayed the final decision until now.

The port, which will cost $600m, will serve nearby fertiliser and aluminium smelting complexes.

Three berths will be built, to handle general, dry bulk and
liquid cargo.

China Harbour is expected to complete the work by the summer of 2010. In November, the group was selected to build a $230m container terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port (MEED 9:11:07).