Saudi ports’ container traffic grows 9%

JEDDAH – The nine ports in Saudi Arabia remain robust, recording a 9 percent growth in container traffic 2004 and 2011, increasing to 6 million twenty foot equivalent units (TEU) from 3 million TEU.

Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) said recently in the executive summary of its infrastructure series covering power, airports, seaports, roads & railways, ICT and water.

The Jeddah port alone accounted for 4 million TEU of container traffic in 2011 and is one of the top 50 container ports in the world with a ranking of 27.

Port authority for all the ports is Saudi Ports Authority and independent terminals of a port are given to a private sector for operation.

The ports of Jeddah and Dammam are KSA’s busiest ports, handling container volume of 4 million and 1.5 million TEU respectively. The bulk cargo volume handled by the Saudi Arabian ports reached its peak in 2008 and decreased during the next two years. Volume handled increased in 2011 to nearly 95 million tons.

Liquid bulk (mainly oil) is the most important cargo followed by dry bulk. The ports of Jeddah, Jizan and Yanbu have passenger terminals for hajj pilgrims.

The development of the 4 Economic Cities is Saudi’s attempt to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to diversify the economy. It is important for Saudi Arabia to invest in port developments, to handle the increase in nonoil exports and to attract FDI through the Economic Cities, Free Trade Zones and Industrial Cities located adjacent to the ports.

Two new ports are being developed in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and Jizan Economic City. Development of $ 6 billion Millennium Seaport in KAEC started in 2010 and is set to complete by 2019 in two phases. The phase I of the port is scheduled to be completed in 2013 and will have a capacity of 3.8 million TEU. The phase II will be completed by 2019 and will add 6 million TEU, taking the port’s total capacity to 10 million TEU.

King Abdul Aziz port, otherwise known as Dammam Port, is also undergoing expansion. A new container terminal is being planned which will double the port’s capacity to 3 million TEU. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2015.

This was a much needed expansion as Dammam port is marred by heavy congestion and this is the only port in Saudi Arabia with a railway link which connects the city and port’s docks directly to industrial complexes.