Abu Dhabi is considering pre-qualification bids from eight consortia for the first of several big contracts for the upcoming Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone (KPIZ), a senior official claims.

Major marine works like quay walls, dredging and land reclamation will commence in the next few months, says Ahmad Saeed Al Calily, managing director of Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC). “We are in the pre-qualification process. There are eight consortiums.”

He says the contract could be worth around US$1.5bn and the tender process will be announced soon.

Abu Dhabi is developing KPIZ as a major trans-shipment, industrial and logistics hub. Located in the Taweelah area between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the port will be developed on a reclaimed island. “The first vessel is expected to arrive in September 2009,” Al Calily says.

He says the new port is needed because the existing Mina Zayed in Abu Dhabi has become “encroached” by city’s growth.

Its operations will be shifted to KPIZ in 2009 and as the Mina Zayed area will be re-developed as a commercial area. Abu Dhabi may also consider developing Mina Zayed as a cruise hub.

Khalifa Port will be an offshore facility connected to the mainland by a 4.5km causeway. Phased development will see more than 100 square kilometres of industrial, logistics and commercial zones. The entire project could take 50 years to develop fully.

Al Calily says Abu Dhabi Ports Company is keen to enter into joint ventures with private companies for developing various parts of the project, including real estate and infrastructure.

When the initial phase is completed in 2009, the port’s container handling capacity will be 2mn TEUs (20ft equivalent units). It will increase to 8mn TEUs by 2015.
DP World, which last year took over the management of Mina Zayed, is likely to be the operator of Khalifa Port.

“Our strategic interests are aligned,” Al Calily claims, adding that it remains to be decided whether DP World will be an equity partner of just a manager.