Interview: Khalid Al Rabban

What measures are being pursued to strengthen the efficiency and capability of berths and jetties for the supply of materials?

KHALID AL RABBAN: QPMC was set up in 2006 by emiri decree with the mandate to boost the efficiency of port facilities used to import construction materials, primarily aggregates including limestone, gabbro, sand and other free-flowing bulk construction materials. This involved improving the efficiency of three gabbro berths in Mesaieed with focused planning and better management. In 2007, the three berths had a capacity to import 9m-10m tonnes per year. We have increased this to 21m tonnes annually. To expand the current capacity of the berths in Mesaieed, we recently tendered a QR1.2bn ($329m) project, which was awarded to a consortium from the EU. The Gabbro Terminal Expansion Project (GTEP) will increase imports from traders to fulfil the expected rise in demand as Qatar’s infrastructure agenda moves forward. The GTEP will enhance efficiency at the berths by installing conveyors and stackers to help reduce the time for trucking and moving materials.

The engineering, procurement and construction contract is due to take 29 months and come on-line in the first quarter of 2016, bringing the total gabbro berth terminal capacity in Mesaieed to 30m tonnes.

Aside from the existing gabbro berths, what other initiatives are planned to help boost the import capacity for construction materials?

AL RABBAN: We recently started leasing additional berths in Mesaieed, which are located adjacent to the gabbro berths. This will add 3m tonnes to capacity. We have also initiated two other projects to increase import capacity. To this end, in addition to operating the existing jetty in Lusail, we are building a new jetty due to be completed by the end of October which will provide another 3m tonnes of capacity. We also recently took out a lease on the southern breakwater of Ras Laffan. The purpose here is to build floating jetties capable of handling 7m tonnes per year and which will be operational by the end of 2014. Given the existing capacity of 21m tonnes, and factoring in the three additional import sources mentioned, Qatar will have an aggregate importing capacity of 34m tonnes by first-quarter 2015. This number will go up to 44m tonnes by first-quarter 2016 once the GTEP project is finished.

How successful has QPMC been at increasing stockpiles locally for materials, and what more needs to be done to enhance storage capabilities?

AL RABBAN: For local traders there is a 5m-tonne-capacity stockpiling yard in Mesaieed near the berths.

This is small in comparison to market requirements, so the challenge is the aggregate has to be moved in less than 20 days to make room for additional supplies. The government has appointed QPMC to create a strategic stockpile of 10m tonnes of aggregate. This is for emergency use and will only be released on a case-by-case basis, so as not to interfere with local traders. To date we have secured 7.5m tonnes and are in the process of getting the rest. Regarding cement, it is estimated that an additional 3m tonnes will need to be imported on top of what is produced locally. As such, we have initiated a project to build storage silos next to the berths in Mesaieed. These will be able to store 70,000 tonnes and will be ready by first-quarter 2015.

Finally, we service 60% of the Qatar market with washed sand. Based on a study, it is estimated that local raw supply for washed sand will be depleted in three to five years’ time. Qatar has a capacity to produce 10m tonnes of washed sand per year. However, due to dwindling resources and environmental concerns, we will need to import 18m tonnes of sand to meet construction needs. By importing sand Qatar can prolong the life of local washed sand and also allow local wash sand producers to remain in business. The imported sand will be mixed with local sand and then sold in the market to meet construction needs for the future.

Khalid Al Rabban has sadly passed away since conducting this interview.