Progress needed on new port in Doha

30 January 2011

Doha has ambitious plans to transform itself into the region’s major trade hub, but if significant headway is not made soon on the New Doha Port project, the country’s industrial aspirations could go unfulfilled

Key fact

Opening in 2014, New Doha port’s first phase will have a capacity of 2 million TEUs a year

Source: MEED

Qatar’s plans for New Doha port could catapult the state into becoming an unrivalled transportation and trade hub for the region.

Doha is keen to establish itself as a centre for trade in the region and, thanks to rising liquefied natural gas exports and high oil prices, it has the funds to do so.

The new port will replace the struggling Doha port, which has limited land area and is surrounded by the growing Qatari capital.

But Doha will have to move quickly if it is to realise its ambitions. Contracts for the UAE’s Khalifa port container terminal and infrastructure works at Taweelah have been awarded already. The port will have an initial capacity of 2 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and 6 million tonnes of general cargo a year. Four later phases will see this capacity rise to 22 million TEUs and 35 million tonnes of cargo by 2028.

Doha: A strategic location

While Doha might not be able to compete with Khalifa port in terms of size and capacity, its geographical position in the Gulf means ships will pass through it on the way to Iraq and Kuwait.

The first phase – which is to be completed by 2014 – will have a capacity of 2 million TEUs a year, a 15-metre-deep approach channel, an 8-13.5-metre-deep harbour basin and berths for general cargo and vessels from the Qatari and visiting navies. Two later phases are also planned, which will add 8 million TEUs a year to the port’s total capacity.

The port can be built to suit initial needs and progressively expanded to handle projected future growth

Martin Mannion, Scott Wilson

In April 2010, Qatar received bids from at least nine consortiums for the first major construction contract on the New Doha port project. The winning consortium – which is yet to be announced – will have to excavate 58 million cubic metres of material, covering an area of 3.2 square kilometres, to a depth of 18 metres, and build 8km of quay wall, plus a 5km-long rubble breakwater.

Beijing-based China Harbour Engineering Company (Chec) has emerged as the low bidder for this contract, with a price of QR3.08bn ($846m). The UAE/Australian Al-Habtoor Leighton Group is the second lowest bidder for the contract, with a price of $1bn, and the consortium of Van Oord and Bam, both of the Netherlands, and Belgium’s Six Construct submitted the third lowest price of $1.08bn.

Australia’s WorleyParsons is the engineering consultant on the project and US-based Aecom is the programme manager for the scheme.

The port currently handles containers, grain and general goods and is operating far above its capacity. The relocation of the port outside the town centre would release a considerable area for redevelopment.

The selected new port location at Al-Wakrah, south of Doha, allows ready access to markets, while the port type (dug into the coast) minimises impact on the sensitive coastal environment.

The US’ Scott Wilson undertook the master planning for the new port, including site selection, between 2007 and 2009. “Another interesting feature is that the port can be built to suit initial needs and then progressively expanded to handle projected future growth,” says Martin Mannion, global head of ports and marine at Scott Wilson. “In recent times, the government decided to increase the scale of the initial phase to take advantage of projected lower construction costs in the current market.”

Qatar Navigation, the country’s main shipping operator, is hoping to operate the New Doha port when it opens in three years time. The company was expected to invite firms to submit bids for the construction of the first phase of the QR1bn Qatar Navigation Logistics City in January 2011.

The project will involve the construction of a 500,000-square-metre city located in Al-Thamama, 8km from New Doha port. The Logistics City will comprise workshops, fuelling stations, accommodation for up to 5,000 employees, a mosque, clinic, seven warehouses and an open yard.

The warehouses will be used to store food items, consumer products, vehicles and machinery, construction materials, and oil and gas. UK-based consultant Halcrow worked on the design of the project.

Warehouse space in Qatar

In 2009, the demand for storage capacity in Qatar totalled 6 million sq m. As trade and the build-up to the 2022 World Cup gains momentum – boosting the number of projects taking place in the region – this figure is expected to increase to 10 million sq m by 2015.

Ahmed al-Kowsi, project manager at Qatar Navigation, said in June that he expects the first phase of Logistics City to be operational by the summer of 2012.

With the financial stability Qatar draws from its hydrocarbon revenues, Doha is in the best possible position to plough large amounts of money into creating and improving its infrastructure. The pace at which it progresses with these ambitious plans will determine its success in the projects market, however.

From 2012, Abu Dhabi will be taking major steps towards a diversified economy by improving its port facilities. Unless Qatar begins to make significant progress with its plans for New Doha port, its industrial aspirations could go unrealised.

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