The first contract on the estimated $280 million project – the cost of which has risen considerably since it was launched in 2003 – calls for the addition of two new container berths while the second covers construction of a 2.5-kilometre breakwater. Among those to have picked up the documents for both contracts are Bahwan Engineering Companyand Galfar Engineering & Contracting, both local, the local/Turkish Alke Gharbia Contracting, India’s Larsen & Toubroand Turkey’s STFA.

Salalah port is operated under a 30-year concession by Salalah Port Services (SPS), a joint venture between the government and Denmark’s AP Moller. Throughput in 2003 reached 2 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and the addition of the fifth and sixth berths will increase capacity by about 50 per cent. Trowers & Hamlinsis advising Muscat on amending the concession agreement with SPS to take account of the various increases in capacity since the port began operations.

The expansion is partly motivated by the need to take account of an anticipated increase in throughput when the adjacent free zone becomes operational. In late June, Tony Restall was appointed general manager at Salalah Free Zone Authority. Restall, who comes to Oman from working at Aden Free Zone in Yemen, has been charged with drawing up a business plan for the area. The project has been on hold since the withdrawal in 2002 of the selected operator of the zone, the US’ Hillwood Strategic Services(MEED 18:6:04).