The local National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) has been awarded a AED1.5bn ($408m) contract to build a shipping channel leading to Mussafah from the Gulf.

The project, which is handled by Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council (UPC) involves dredging a 63-kilometre-long, 9-metre deep channel running along the southwest of Hudayriat Island to Mussafah.

UPC wants the channel to be finished by the end of June 2010.

The new channel is necessary because a new bridge is being built across the existing approach channel between Abu Dhabi Island and Hudayriat Island.

The joint venture of the local Overseas Ast and Switzerland’s VSL has won the estimated AED500m contract to build a road bridge connecting Abu Dhabi Island with Hudayriat Island.

The local Tourism & Development Investment Company (TDIC) is handling the project on behalf of the Abu Dhabi government, which wants to open Hudayriat Island for development (MEED 14:8:09).

In early November, NMDC won the contract to build four artificial islands at the offshore Upper Zakum oil field. The islands will be built at depths ranging from 6 metres to 14 metres, and will cover an area of 2.6km by 2km.

They are part of a project by the offshore oil and gas developer Zakum Development Company (Zadco) to increase oil production at the field to 750,000 barrels a day (b/d) from current levels of about 500,000 b/d, which will cost an estimated $15bn.

Zadco plans to use the islands as drilling platforms and to have supporting infrastructure for the development. It says this will cost 20-30 per cent less than using conventional offshore platforms.