Saudi to spend $613m on ports expansions
Jeddah, June 20, 2011
Saudi Arabia plans to raise the capacity of its second-largest port in Dammam and may spend more than SR2.3 billion ($613 million) on port expansions to rival other regional ports, its transport minister said on Monday.
'All ports are subject now to expansion. We are investing now SR2.3 billion for projects in all the ports and we always continue increasing, particularly the industrial ports in Yanbu and Jubail,' Jobarah al-Suraisry said.
'The next budget will be coming in five or six months and we will see more projects,' he said, without giving more details.
The world's largest oil exporter, which is trying to diversify its economy away from oil, currently has nine ports, with around 200 docks, Suraisry told reporters in Jeddah.
The largest Saudi port is Jeddah Islamic Port (JIP) on the Red Sea, which has increased its capacity to around 5 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units), after it opened the new Red Sea Gateway (RSG) terminal at the end of 2009.
Suraisry said he believed that despite the downturn in the global economy, the JIP will see at least a 5 percent increase in traffic this year.
JIP handled 3.9 million TEU in 2010, according to data from the Saudi Ports Authority.
The kingdom's second-largest port in Dammam will also double its capacity over the next three years to hold 3 million containers, Suraisry said.
He did not give an estimate for the cost but said the expansion is to carried out jointly by the Saudi Public Investment Fund and Singapore port operator PSA.
Saudi Arabia is currently undergoing multi-billion infrastructure projects including $400 billion to be spent in the five years to 2013, and over $130 billion to be spent on social and infrastructure projects.
A port catering to grains imports is to be built by the private sector over the next two to three years, Suraisry told Reuters.
'The intention is for the government to provide the land and the private sector to construct the project,' he said, adding that Saudi investors had shown interest in the project. -Reuters
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