The project is part of the Abu Dhabi government’s plans to diversify the economy away from its heavy reliance on oil and gas exploration and develop manufacturing, logistics and services enterprises. Hence the new port also serves the neighbouring Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) and this will also provide it with a captive cargo base.
Arguably, though, Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), which owns the port, has wider ambitions.
Khalifa’s location close to Jebel Ali and its future expansion phases that will raise its handling capacity towards 12 million teu by 2020 will mean it will be looking to gain a share of the regional transhipment business. It will also be the first semi-automated container-handling facility in the region.
With ocean carriers deploying much larger tonnage, this is viewed as a growth sector, particularly as the number of port capable of handling such ships are limited.
There is no doubt that Khalifa will raise the competitive stakes, particularly as Jebel Ali is also pressing ahead with its own capacity expansion plans. Indeed that port’s owner/operator will raise its design throughput by almost 35%, up to 19 million teu by 2014.
Khalifa is opening at least two months earlier than originally expected