x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Taweelah port dream comes into vision

Industrial free zone begins a 20-year journey for the future of capital

Work nears completion on the main south causeway platform in Taweelah.
Work nears completion on the main south causeway platform in Taweelah.

Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) will finish building within weeks the first phase of a 2.7 square km offshore port in Taweelah, part of the emirate's largest infrastructure project. The initial phase of Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone (KPIZ) will open in late 2012 but later phases will not be fully completed for 20 years.

The project will be part of the Abu Dhabi Plan 2030 to stimulate new manufacturing industries and provide them with the transport links they require. The first phase involved two years of dredging 45 million cubic metres to create a deep-draft, 12km approach channel to the port, and reclamation of the offshore port island. "This is the first big visible reference that this port is here, it's real and it will be ready for business," said Tony Douglas, the chief executive of ADPC.

Mr Douglas, a former chief executive of London's Heathrow Airport, has been working on the project for the past four months, although his appointment as the head of ADPC was officially announced this week. The project comprises the port, which is 4.6km offshore and connected by causeways to the mainland, and a 417 sq km inland free zone that will be the site of factories for aluminium, chemicals, paper and glass.

"This is not just a port that happens to have an industrial zone," Mr Douglas said. "We are developing an industrial zone that has multi-modal transport connectivity, of which the port is vital." He said the zone would also rely heavily on air and rail links from the planned Union Railway, and airports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. When complete, the port will be able to handle 15 million containers a year and about 35 million tonnes of general cargo.

Although a total cost has not been given, the KPIZ project budget to 2013 is Dh26.5 billion (US$7.21bn), ADPC said. In 2007, ADPC awarded the Dh5.5bn dredging contract to a consortium including Archirodon Construction, Boskalis Westminster Middle East and Hyundai Engineering and Construction. Contracts have been awarded to Larsen and Toubro for a Dh300 million deal to build electrical power systems, distribution substations and civil buildings.

In July last year, ADPC awarded a Dh1.4bn contract to Al Habtoor Leighton to build onshore port facilities, and Al Jaber-GIS was last month contracted to design and install control systems throughout onshore and offshore areas of KPIZ in a deal worth Dh350m. Other contracts could be announced in the coming months, including those for offshore building works, port terminal infrastructure and facilities, and industrial zone road and utilities networks.

As well as becoming a catalyst for new industries, the port will also gradually assume the emirate's seaborne trade as Mina Zayed, in downtown Abu Dhabi, is wound down and redeveloped into office and residential space. A plan to shift shipping lines and logistics companies to the new port would be drawn up in the next nine months, ADPC said. Companies planning a presence at the port and industrial zone include EMAL, which is building one of the world's largest aluminium smelters, and a large chemicals company called Tacaamol, which is part of the Government's plan to develop downstream industries.

Khaled Salmeen, the executive vice president of the industrial zones unit for ADPC, said he was optimistic the industrial zone would attract major industrial players. "We have a huge list of expressions of interest," Mr Salmeen said. igale@thenational.ae