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Progress at Al Faw Grand Port in Iraq eclipses Kuwait’s Boubiyan

Progress at Al Faw Grand Port in Iraq eclipses Kuwait’s Boubiyan

The company transporting rocks from the UAE to build approach works at Iraq's newest port says that work on an eastern breakwater is now complete, putting Iraq in poll position to win the race to build the mega-port for the northern Gulf.

Al Faw Grand Port, situated on the Arabian Gulf, is expected to give Iraq a new gateway to the outside world, as existing facility, Umm Qasr, situated some 70 km to the west, is insufficient to deal with potential general, container and petroleum products throughput into and out of Iraq.

“Al Faw is very much happening. I have 50 vessels there. We have finished the eastern breakwater. Construction on Phase 2, the western breakwater, has been awarded to Korea’s Daewoo Engineering and Construction. We did the first bid for Daewoo two months back and they are considering awarding us a contract for delivery of a further two-three million tons of rock. They are there and they have started work,” said Adib Abdel Massih, ceo, Marine Core and Charter (MarineC2).

Progress to build Boubiyan Port has been hampered by bureaucracy at the Kuwait Ports Authority, which has made a poor job of increasing capacity at the existing Shuweikh Port.

MarineC2 operates and owns cargo barges, tugs, anchor handling, multi-purpose vessesl, and accommodation barges, and serves the offshore marine transportation business. “We own eight vessels and we operate in our fleet currently over 65 vessels. We are doing chartering and we do bareboat. The majority of our fleet is operating in the Arabian Gulf,” he said.

The UAE company is the main marine transportation company for Archirodon, a Greek marine construction concern, which carried out marine works on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah in 2002-06. In 2012, Archirodon was awarded Al Faw Grand Port construction project in Iraq. It started work in May 2013 and is expecting to complete the eastern breakwater in August, Abdel Massih said. “We have so far transported 3 million tons of rock for them,” he said.

“The trip for our tugs and barges up the Gulf takes three-and-a-half days if we use our fast tugs. So far we have done 350 trips and we never faced any security issue with naval forces operating in the Gulf. And Ras Al Khaimah, the source of the rocks, has a very secure port.”

He said the plan is to link the Arabian Gulf to the Mediterranean with existing railways. “They just need to maintain and revamp them.”

He added that he expected that Kuwait’s plans for a new port at Boubiyan Island would soon be eclipsed by Iraq. “I don't think the Kuwait ambition to build a port is going to happen. Al Faw will move faster than Boubiyan. The Iraqis are fast. Iraq Al Faw Phase 1 is complete. Work on Phase 2 has started.”

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