International Container Terminal Services ICTSI, a Filipino operator has decided to invest $130US million in Iraq's southern Umm Qasr commodities port.
The Filipino company has decided to operate, develop and expand the port, near Iraq's border with Kuwait, for the first phase of the project.
The gulf waterway port is a vital if not essential port as it receives grain shipment and heavy equipment used in the oil and gas sector, despite not exporting oil.
General Company for Ports of Iraq has signed the contract with ICTSI, a Manila based company which will implement the first of the three stage project that will involve constructing three quays that will sustain 1,500 containers, storage yards and six gantry cranes (two for each stage).
Sharif al-Battat, commission manager at ICTSI stated the following about the project: "The estimated cost of the project is $140 to 150 million dollars for each stage. Each stage involves construction of a quay and a 200,000 square metre yard opposite to store containers and machinery, which are used to load and unload vessels," said Battat added that the first quay should be operational by August. Within the first phase of the project, a 200-meter long quay has been completed and God willing, it will be operational on August 1 with the arrival of the first vessel and the second will be completed within the coming two years," Battat added.
ICTSI will provide an additional new container and general cargo terminal in Umm Qasr for a 26-year concession period as well as general cargo terminal services, and will eventually have a three million container capacity, according to Anmar al-Safi, the head of media relations for Iraqi Ports Company: "The estimated cost of the construction of three quays is $380 million dollars and I think that with this huge investment we can upgrade the capacity of the port to the targeted shipments planned by the Iraqi ports. For example, the yards can contain up to a million containers in the first phase. The project falls into three phases and this means that by the end of the third and final phase the capacity will be three million containers." Safi added the proejct will increase the ports berths from 48 to 83.
"ICTSI operates the Philippines' biggest ports and has terminal concessions and port development projects in various other countries, including in Indonesia, Japan, China, the United States, Brazil, Poland, Pakistan, India and now Iraq.
Iraq has only a sliver of coast, squeezed in between Iran and Kuwait. Umm Qasr, one of four Iraqi commercial ports but its only deep water one, handles 80 percent of the country's imports, including grain for a huge public food ration program."