The stated objective of the session, which remained closed to the press for reasons of commercial confidentiality, was to build new strategic business relationships, principally with suppliers, but also with any ship owners or managers interested in using the yard’s future newbuilding and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) capabilities.
The IMI yard complex is under construction at Ras Al Khair on the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia, some 200km north of Dammam. Saudi Aramco and Bahri are majority partners in the joint venture, alongside South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries and oil rig builder Lamprell of the UAE.
IMI says the combined expertise of the four partners – all world or regional leaders in their respective fields – in designing the new yard will ensure the very highest standards in construction and repair of both merchant ships and offshore rigs.
According to Lamprell, IMI can start business, after a loan agreement with the proposed government lender, the Saudi Industrial Development Fund. This is an important condition for the success of the IMI yard, in addition to the significant investment made by the Saudi government in the facility's infrastructure.
The construction process at the site is underway with dredging and associated activities in progress. The partners have made progress in creating the business infrastructure, including the management organisation, the internal governance structure and the detailed business plan.
This follows the first capital contribution by each partner in accordance with their pro rata share and in line with the original drawdown schedule. It is planned that, pursuant to one of the offtake agreements, ARO Drilling will order 20 jack-up rigs from the IMI yard over the next ten years.
Phase One of the project, the rig construction zone, is due to open in early-2019, with three further zones opening on a phased basis through until late-2021/ early-2022. Upon completion, it will be the largest combined drydock in the Middle East and North Africa, with the largest shiplift and combined lift capability of any drydock in the world, promises IMI.
This ambitious project will help drive the Kingdom’s economic diversity and growth, and localise energy sector industries through the creation of “anchor projects” that will provide the cornerstone for the growth and development of supply chains. It will also position the Kingdom as a technological centre, with top global expertise in the field of marine engineering and construction in the region.