DP World awards £400 mln contract to build UK port

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UAE’s DP World said yesterday it has awarded a £400 million contract to build the first phase of a new port at London Gateway, Britain’s first deep sea container port development in a quarter century.

A joint venture between British construction firm Laing O’Rourke and Belgian group Dredging International won the contract, which will be completed in five years and see the construction of three berths and 1.2-kilometres of quay. “This is the first major contract to be awarded in the £1.5 billion project, due to be built over the next 10 to 15 years,” DP World said in a statement.

The new port will have a capacity to handle 3.5 million TEU (twenty foot equivalent units), and is one of the largest of more than a dozen new port projects being developed by DP World. “This contract is a major milestone in constructing the port. In an economic climate where the building industry is experiencing a sharp slow down, this is great news for Essex and the UK in general,” London Gateway chief executive Simon Moore said. “London Gateway is vitally important for today’s UK economy. It will deliver the most efficient and technologically advanced port in the world and much-needed deep sea capacity for the UK,” he said.

The company, which listed its shares on the Dubai International Financial Exchange in November, will announce its half-year financial results on August 28. It share price has fallen about 38%. The stock closed 2.4% lower yesterday at 81 cents. At the end of 2007, DP World had a capacity 48 million TEUs at its 42 terminals and handled 43.3 million TEUs. It aims to have a capacity of 90 million TEUs by 2017 with several big projects under way in India and China.

The UK project, being developed on the former Shell Haven oil refinery site in the Thames Estuary includes a business park. It will create 12,000 jobs, according to DP World. Construction will begin later this year at the 1,500 acre site, located 40 kilometers from central London. The logistics park, which will offer 9.5 million square feet of space, is due to open in the second half of 2010, with the first ships arriving in early 2011.

The company said that by integrating the new container port with a logistics park, goods will be sent to British shops without “having to be hauled on a truck to a distribution centre often situated inland hundreds of miles away from a container port”. It estimated that by removing “this inefficient part of the logistics process”, London Gateway will take 52 million truck miles off the UK’s highways every year. (Gulf News)

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