The market contractors want to break

Qatar is the waking giant of the GCC construction industry. The Gulf state sits on the third largest gas reserve in the world, which has prompted rampant development of industrial infrastructure. The country is also playing host to the Asian Games at the end of the year, which has been a trigger for a raft of residential and sports facilities to be built in Doha. CW introduces the next big construction market in the Middle East.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  April 29, 2006

|~|119Qatarintro200.gif|~|Construction in Doha is peaking this year as Qatar prepares for the Asian Games in December. Other mega projects include the New Doha International Airport, the offshore Pearl-Qatar and several multi-billion dollar gas to liquids projects.|~|Qatar is fast making a name for itself as the most buzzing construction market in the Middle East. It has one of the highest incomes per capita in the world and is home to around 15% of the world’s total proven natural gas reserves —third in size after Russia and Iran. And it is these 910 trillion ft3 (tcf) of gas reserves that are helping fuel the rapid growth of this tiny Gulf nation, which by 2012 may become the world’s largest global gas exporter. Liquid natural gas, or LNG, is the buzzword in Qatar. The term refers to natural gas that can be liquefied by cooling it to about -160°C. April this year saw construction of two of the world’s largest LNG developments, Qatargas Three and Qatargas Four, get underway. The two projects combined are expected to generate around 2.8 billion ft3 per day of natural gas, the majority of which is targeted for delivery to the US. The onshore engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for both projects was awarded to the Chiyoda Corporation and Technip France joint venture (CTJV) and covers onshore facilities for two large-scale LNG trains, each with a capacity of 7.8 million tonnes per annum. The total contract value is around US $4 billion (QR14.6 billion). Construction of Laffan Refinery, one of the largest condensate refineries in the world, began at Ras Laffan City in April. This new $800 million facility will be capable of processing around 146,000 barrels per day (bpd) of gas products, the bulk of which will go to Asian markets. The EPC contract for the project was won by a South Korean consortium of GS Engineering and Construction Corporation, and Daewoo Engineering and Construction. And next year the $10 billion Dolphin project is expected to begin delivering 2 billion ft3 of pipeline gas to the UAE and Oman, with a possible option of linking delivery from Oman to Pakistan via a sub-sea connection. Qatar is also forging ahead with new ways of utilising its natural gas resources. Rapid technological progressions have been made on GTL (gas to liquid) projects, which enable the conversion of natural gas into liquid products. Whereas LNG involves cooling the natural gas until it liquefies, and then transporting it in specialised tankers, GTL converts the gas into a room-temperature fluid that can flow through an oil pipeline. While Qatar is synonymous with gas within the worldwide energy sector, there are plenty of opportunities for foreign companies to capitalise on the country’s rich oil sector. The likes of ChevronTexaco, Total and Cosmo Oil now account for over one-third of Qatar’s oil production capacity. And the Qatari government has introduced yet more reforms in a bid to encourage overseas oil companies to improve oil recovery and search for new deposits. With its rapidly increasing economy, Qatar’s oil and gas reserves are not its only assets — its construction and tourism industries are steadily gaining momentum. The capital, Doha, has seen a recent wave of commercial and residential projects from international investors who have quickly recognised the potential economic benefits from setting up shop in Qatar. Much of the recent construction activity taking place in Qatar has been fuelled by its position as the host nation for the 2006 Asian Games. As the first Middle Eastern country to hold the Games, a raft of projects are underway to cater for the event, which in sporting terms is second only in size to the Olympics. According to the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee, over $2.8 billion is being invested into the event that will take place in December 2006. New stadia and residences are being built for the competition, including the Khalifa Stadium and the Olympic village, which will house the 10,500 athletes and several thousand officials who will be participating. Qatar is currently one of the most important hotel markets in the region with more than 25 new hotels and resorts underway in and around Doha, many of which will help cater to the influx of tourists that will descend on the capital for the Games. Elsewhere in Qatar, construction is progressing on the $5 billion New Doha International Airport (NDIA). Scheduled for completion in 2015, the 2,200-ha site will have two parallel runways and be able to handle around 12 million passengers per year. It is the world’s first airport to be designed specifically to cater for the new Airbus A380s, the world’s largest passenger aircraft. When fully operational, NDIA’s terminal will be able to accommodate up to six A380s. Other major construction projects underway in Qatar include the $2.5 billion Pearl-Qatar, which is being built 350m offshore close to the West Bay lagoon area of Doha. The Riviera-style development is Qatar’s first international freehold real estate venture and when finished will create over 30km of new coastline. Other major developments in Qatar include Hamad Medical City, Education City, the General Library and the Science and Technology Park. Doha’s high-rise construction is rapidly picking up pace, lead by the $273.5 million Dubai Towers — Qatar’s tallest tower to date —which is currently under construction. The 80-storey tower will be a mixed-use development incorporating office, retail and residential space, complete with five-star hotel and furnished apartments to be operated by Jumeirah International. Al Habtoor and Al Jaber are the main contractors, and the project is scheduled for completion at the beginning of 2007. Elsewhere on the tower scene, one of the most striking features of Doha’s cityscape will be the 34-storey residential Lagoon Plaza Tower, which has been nominated by the Guinness Book of World Records for being the tallest zigzag tower in the world. As the Qatari government forges ahead with its efforts to promote public and private sector cooperation, Qatar is fast becoming one of the most vibrant economies within the GCC nations. Such is the pace of expansion that there are an estimated $30 billion worth of projects scheduled or underway. In this regional supplement, CW examines some of the major projects planned for Qatar, and talks to some of the investors and contractors who are tapping into Qatar’s wealth of natural resource potential.||**||

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