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Kuwaiti port joins region's expansion plans

Kuwait is said to be on track to build an US$850 million port on Bubiyan Island, increasing its logistics capacity to take advantage of the country's strategic location.

With an economic windfall on its way, Kuwait is said to be on track to build an US$850 million port on Bubiyan Island, which will increase its logistics capacity for companies wishing to take advantage of the country's strategic location.

According to industry sources, several experts are already preparing a report to be presented to the Kuwaiti Cabinet for the construction of the new venture. A strategic open seaport at Bubiyan Island would be ideally placed to exploit the growing number of vessels expected to move into the region's shipping traffic in the next few years.

Jassem Al Oun, who heads the Divided Zone Agreements and Kuwait Islands and Mega Projects Development team, says developing the northern areas is a strategic aim of his team, emphasising all work in this regard would be accelerated.

The commissioning of the feasibility report on the project follows the recent political and security developments in the region, which are expected to lead to a big increase in the volume of containers shipped through the northern Gulf region, with estimates of a 45% rise by 2020.

Proposals are also said to be under consideration to upgrade facilities at Kuwait's Shuwaikh and Shuaiba container terminals to increase handling capacity and reduce vessel turnaround times. In addition, a refurbishment programme for existing equipment may be carried out.

It has also been reported by several news organisations that Gulftainer, which operates the Khorfakkan and Sharjah container terminals in the UAE, has submitted a master plan to Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA) to redevelop Shuwaikh and Shuaiba ports. At present, there are three major commercial ports in Kuwait, including Shuwaikh, Shuaiba and Doha. KPA is planning major new investments estimated at US$100 million, to cater for the extra expected business from Iraqi origin/destination flows and is open to proposals from the private sector in order to fast track the required infrastructure improvements.

As business escalates for the shipping industry other regional ports are expected to follow suit. In Abu Dhabi the US-based consultancy Frederic R Harris has been retained to advise on a project to extend the container terminal at Mina Zayed. While Dubai Ports Authority is planning to increase capacity at Jebel Ali Port to 22 million TEUs (twenty feet equivalent units) per year by 2020 in the four-phase programme costing $1.1 billion.

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