Qatar moves to resolve bitumen supply bottlenecks

20 October 2013

Contractors face growing pressure as work on World Cup infrastructure starts

The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) is expected to prequalify about four companies to supply bitumen and bitumen product to its projects, as it attempts to overcome the supply chain bottlenecks that Qatar’s construction industry faces as it starts work on $70bn of new infrastructure projects in the build up for the 2022 World Cup.

Ashghal is estimated to require about 600,000 tonnes a year of bitumen as work starts on billions of dollars of new road projects. “The bitumen requirements over the coming years are substantial; there are the expressways and the local roads programmes, on top of everything else that is going on in Qatar ahead of the World Cup,” says a contractor working in Qatar.

To meet this demand, Ashghal has invited firms to submit prequalification documents by 10 November for the new supply contracts. The qualification criteria include an annual turnover of more than QR500m ($135m), a minimum of seven years of experience at supplying bitumen products, ability to supply to projects in Qatar, and the ability to satisfy Qatar Ports’ regulations.

It is expected that the successful applicants will be allowed to ship bitumen from Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) into Qatar. Bapco is the preferred bitumen producer in the area. Other alternatives in Iran are considered by contractors working in Qatar to be of a lower grade.

At present the only supplier that can bring in bitumen by sea is Qatar Fuel (Woqod), which because it is owned by Qatar Petroleum (QP), is able to use QP’s port facilities. All other bitumen imports come from Bahrain across the causeway to Saudi Arabia and then into Qatar by road. Transporting bitumen by truck across the causeway can lead to intermittent supplies, especially during holiday periods when traffic is particularly heavy. Bapco is also understood to limit the volume of bitumen it supplies to certain companies.

Aggregate is another building material that has supply constraints, and in September the local Qatar Primary Materials Company awarded the joint venture of Denmark’s FLSmidth and the local/Belgian Six Construct Qatar (Sixco) the estimated QR1.6bn contract to build new berths at Mesaieed Port for the import of aggregates.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package includes all the detailed engineering, design and construction of the facility, which will be built at the Mesaieed Gabbro Berths.

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