x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Cargo port reopens in Abu Dhabi

Musaffah Port has reopened for business after a number of improvements including the completion of a new Dh1.5 billion channel.

Musaffah Port has reopened for business and expects soon to begin a Dh1.5 billion (US$408.4 million) channel that opens the industrial area to shipping traffic.

The port operator, Abu Dhabi Terminals, said the reopening followed a "refreshment phase" in which the company refocused its strategy for the port, which deals with heavy cargo including oil and gas equipment, steel and aluminium fabricators.

The first cargo after the re-opening arrived on Monday by barge from Abu Dhabi's primary cargo facility, Mina Zayed.

"Abu Dhabi Terminals resumed operations at Musaffah Port," the company said, describing the facility as "strategically located in the heart of Abu Dhabi's industrial area … [and] ideally suited to industrial and project cargo operations".

The National Marine Dredging Company, based in Abu Dhabi, is the main contractor for the 63km, 200 metre-wide channel.

The waterway has a 9 metre draught and has been constructed for the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, the agency overseeing much of the emirate's zoning plans and urban developments.

The channel project is one of several dredging deals for Abu Dhabi. Recently, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company awarded a contract to Van Oord, a Dutch firm, to carry out land reclamation and shore protection work on Das Island. The reported value of that contract is €200 million (Dh963.5m), with completion scheduled for December next year.

Musaffah Port, which has a 342-metre quay and an 11 metre draught, has been underused because of problems with access, port officials said earlier this year. There were also concerns about its proximity to recreational boating and watersports facilities, and plans to develop nearby Hodariyat Island. In addition, the port's original access channel is not deep enough for heavy, ocean-going vessels, which are forced to drop anchor 40km offshore and transfer cargoes such as raw iron for steel mills to smaller ships for delivery into Musaffah.

Musaffah and the adjacent Industrial City of Abu Dhabi, home to shipyards and fabricators of oil and gas rig, require access to the ocean to receive materials for local industry.

As the emirate works to diversify away from its reliance on oil and gas revenues and builds commercially sustainable industries, the Musaffah industrial zone and its tenants, including Emirates Steel Industries, Abu Dhabi Ship Building, Al Jaber Group, Adyard Abu Dhabi and Gulf Piping, are expected to take on bigger roles.

To facilitate this, a second port for Musaffah is under consideration by Abu Dhabi Ports Company, a shareholder of Abu Dhabi Terminals.

At the same time, major investments are being planned for a new port in Taweelah near the border with Dubai.

The project, called Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), will encompass an area more than three times the size of Abu Dhabi island when completed in 2030. It is considered one of the most important infrastructure projects the capital has undertaken and will relocate the emirate's port facilities from Mina Zayed on Abu Dhabi island. It is due to open in late 2012, and is planned to include 3.4 square km of offshore port facilities and a 3.2km quay. It will be gradually expanded throughout five phases, eventually being able to handle 15 million containers and 35 million tonnes of general cargo a year.

It is intended that by 2030, KIZAD will have created 150,000 jobs and be contributing 15 per cent of the emirate's non-oil GDP.

igale@thenational.ae