The expansion of Jubail port in Saudi Arabia, over thirty years ago, was one of the first large scale projects executed by Dutch dredging and marine contractor Van Oord in the Middle East. With the award of the Palm Deira project in Dubai, the company has assured its presence in the region for the coming decade. Meanwhile, operations have expanded in the Middle East to Bahrain and Qatar. As of June 2006, the order book further includes a contract at the north eastern coast of Oman where Van Oord is involved in the large scale port expansion project in the industrial port of Sohar.
On June 4, 2006 the Ministry for Transport and Communications awarded the ‘Sohar Industrial Port Construction of Quay walls and Dredging – phase 3’ to the joint venture of Van Oord (45 per cent), Interbeton (27.5 per cent) and Sixconstruct (27.5 per cent).
“Our consortium partners have taken on the lengthening of the present quay wall with almost two km, the construction of a new breakwater and a new heavy load out area at the former fishery harbour and the construction of a service berth. The dredging activities, a substantial part of the contract, are being executed by Van Oord. We are dredging the access channel, the harbour basin, the turning basin and the quay walls” explains Pieter van Oord, Area Director, Middle East.
The port expansion in Sohar is part of the ‘Oman vision 2020,’ a plan to increase the economic diversity of Oman in cooperation with the business community. It is an initiative many Omanis take pride in, since the port development would turn part of the country, up until recently considered as more remote, into an important maritime and industrial centre.
In total around 300 people are working on the project. The Van Oord project team, consisting of 174 employees, with over 30 per cent Omanis, is guided by project manager Hans Bijen and two works managers. Under their supervision the trailing suction hopper dredger HAM 310, cutter suction dredger HAM 218 and water injection vessels Sagar Mantan and HAM 922 will dredge almost 24 million m3 of sand. The dredging work involves the deepening of the access channel to -18 m, the turning basin to -18.5 m, dredging a navigation channel to the quay wall to -20 m and deepening the existing fishing port to -10m.
Part of the dredged sand will be used to reclaim land for the future container terminal, expansion of the former fishing port and a reclamation area near Majis for future developments. 1 million tonnes of rock will be used in the project for a new breakwater construction in the former fishing port and the construction of rock bunds forthe future container terminal.