Construction Contract Signed for Iraq’s New Deep-Water Port
Iraq’s long-delayed effort to develop the Grand Faw region near Basra into a new deep-water port is proceeding. South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering & Construction Company signed a contract worth $2.625 billion for the construction of the new port, container terminal, and access channel.
Proposed more than a decade ago, the plan called for the construction of a second port to expand capacity and relieve some of the pressures on the strategically located Umm Qsar port in southern Iraq. The Iraqi government had said it would fund the project, which was expected to cost more than $3 billion, from oil revenues. Internal problems in Iraq and the decline in oil prices stalled the plans for the port. Work had begun on the first of the breakwaters for the port, which was projected to have a capacity to handle 99 million tons of cargo annually, but the work did not proceed.
Reuters is reporting that the South Korean construction company will undertake the first phase of the project that will include five berths and a container yard. The project is expected to take four years and when completed should have a capacity of three million containers annually.
Daewoo will also carry out the work to create a new, deeper channel for the port, according to comments by Iraqi officials reported by Reuters. The plan for the port called for a deep-water channel to permit the largest containerships to use the port.
The port had become a point of contention as the negotiations dragged on with reports that a Chinese company had withdrawn and the South Korean’s had increased their price for the construction. Iraqi officials said that the United States was trying to block foreign companies instead wanting an American company to run the project.
An Italian company did the original feasibility studies calling for the construction of the new port. Beyond the port facilities, Iraq developed a broad scheme which also included power and desalination plants, steelworks, and other factories.