In addition to port redevelopment projects, ambitious ventures in the energy, real estate and heavy industry sectors are generating new business opportunities in Aqaba. Tenders for the construction of a new oil terminal, a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal, and a phosphate and potash export terminal are all due to be awarded in the near future, while the backers of one of Aqaba’s major real estate projects plan to appoint a new construction contractor in 2012.
NEW ENERGY TERMINALS: Plans to construct new energy terminals are generating some of the most notable opportunities. One of the latest tender announcements is for a 120,000-cu-metre storage and distribution terminal for crude oil and oil products. In late May 2012 the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources invited companies to pre-qualify for the lump-sum turnkey engineering, procurement and construction tender for the project by June 21. Jordan has significantly stepped up imports of gas oil and fuel oil to produce electricity as a result of continued disruptions since early 2011 at supply lines in the Sinai Peninsula that feed Egyptian gas to both the Arab Gas Pipeline, which transports gas to Jordan, and a separate pipeline to Israel.
The kingdom also has plans to issue a tender for the construction of an offshore LNG terminal at Aqaba, though this has been postponed a number of times. The authorities previously considered a similar project in the middle of the 1990s. One major benefit offered by such a project is that it would allow the country to diversify away from its reliance on Egyptian gas. Regional media reported in May 2011 that Jordan and Qatar were studying the possibility of building such a terminal to receive LNG from Qatar in particular, at a construction cost of between $1.2bn and $2bn. In January 2012 the government appointed a consortium to conduct a feasibility study for the project, having issued a tender for consultancy in summer 2011. The same month Jordanian newspaper Al Arab Al Yawm, citing the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, reported that the authorities planned to issue a tender for the construction of the terminal by June 2012. However, at the beginning of June reports suggested that the tender had been pushed back until later in the year. Around the same time, Al Sharq newspaper reported that a technical delegation from the Ministry of Energy of Qatar was set to visit the kingdom in the middle of June to discuss the project and announce the results of the joint technical studies.
Under the plan LNG will be converted back to gas at the terminal and piped to power stations inland, with surplus gas possibly being re-exported north to Turkey and beyond. The authorities expect construction of the terminal will take approximately two years and that it will remain in operation for around five or six years. Following this venture they hope to be able to turn to other energy sources such as domestic gas, which is currently being explored for, as well as nuclear energy.
HEAVY INDUSTRY: Aqaba’s heavy industry sector is also driving tender activity. In May 2012 Al Arab Al Yawm reported that the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) intended to award a contract for the development and management of a potash phosphate-focused industrial export terminal in June. The tender will be worth an estimated JD75m ($105.39m). A total of 5.4m tonnes of phosphates and 1.7m tonnes of potash were exported via Aqaba in 2011, according to Aqaba Ports Corporation figures.
Another major contracting opportunity may come up in the near future as part of plans to relaunch the Saraya tourism and real estate mega-project, which stalled as a result of financing problems. In April 2012 Saraya said that it planned to appoint a new construction contractor in the coming months. At the beginning of June the project’s developers said they planned to meet later in the month to raise additional capital of JD300m ($421.56m) in order to relaunch the project before the close of 2012.
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