Sharjah-based ports operator Gulftainer will start operating a common carrier berth in Umm Qasr port in Iraq soon, according to a company spokesman.

Umm Qasr is Iraq’s only deep sea port and is in urgent need of redevelopment.

A Gulftainer spokesman says operations at Umm Qasr will start “as soon as possible” but was not able to provide any further details.

In 2009, the Iraqi Transport Ministry signed two contracts with foreign operators to lease and develop other commercial berths at Umm Qasr. Baghdad signed one contract with French shipping group CMA CGM and the second deal with an unnamed German-Kuwaiti company (MEED 13:7:09).

The volume of cargo passing through Gulftainer’s two UAE ports increased 9.9 per cent in 2009, due to a relatively buoyant regional economy. The company’s total throughput was 2.75 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2009, up from 2.5 million TEUs in 2008 (MEED 7:1:10).