We are Sailing

Qatar’s maritime sector is being upgraded in terms of port capacity and fleet size.

As a peninsular country in the Gulf whose livelihood depends on international trade and energy exports, maritime transportation is indispensable for Qatar.

Both the size of its commercial fleet and the capacity of its ports have been growing over the last two decades. The country is ahead of the rest of the GCC and most of Middle East in terms of domestic logistics, according to Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index.

A new milestone was achieved in early 2022, when the 366-m-long container ship, CMA CGM APOLLON, called on Hamad Port, south of Doha. The container ship belongs to the ultra-large class of cargo ships, carrying 15,000 TEUs. The event was notable as it demonstrated Hamad Port’s capacity in handling large vessels.

Ships such as CMA CGM APOLLON require special port infrastructure for berthing, loading and unloading, and container handling.

QTerminals, the port’s operator, has great faith in the port and its capacity. “Hamad port was built to the highest specifications and standards when it opened its doors, so it was ready to handle the largest ships.

Our wharf depth measures 17m, and we have enough quay space and the equipment of high specifications to handle the large vessels coming to this part of the Arabian Gulf,” pointed out Nadeem M. Mian, managing director of QTerminals at Hamad Port.

These favorable views are supported by facts and numbers.

Hamad Port operates direct sea lanes to East Asia and Europe, as well as a handful of transshipment hubs, thus linking Qatar to almost everywhere in the world. The port is quite new and has managed to become the preferred port of call for many ocean-liners in just under seven years.

The construction work on the port began in 2010 in Umm Al-Houl district near Doha, and the port became fully operational in 2015-2016.
The port has been evolving and developing continuously.

New direct shipping lines to Malaysia, India, and Turkey were recently announced to expand Qatar’s international business opportunities.

The port facilities have been upgraded several times since its launch, so as to keep up with the highest standards in maritime logistics. A new terminal, known as CT2, was launched in 2020, while the older infrastructure were robustly upgraded after a mere four years of service.
Hamdan Port’s container volume grew by 9% in 2021, alone.

In the same year, the port registered 150 more arrivals compared to the previous year, with a total of 1,750 ships birthing at the port. The figures are expected to grow further in 2022, as global trade bounces back to its pre-pandemic levels.

Moreover, with Europe replacing Russia with Qatar as its main energy supplier, even more LNG carriers are going to call for Qatari ports in 2022, though LNG is not handled at Hamdan Port due to health and safety concerns.

Ras Laffan Port, located to the north of Hamdan Port, houses the world’s largest LNG terminals. Owned by QatarEnergy, the port only handles petroleum products, at quantities exceeding 10 million metric tons a year.

The deep-water port can accommodate LNG tankers of all classes. Since the beginning of the energy crisis in Europe in the wake of the war in Ukraine, more-and-more gas-tankers are berthing at Ras Laffan Port each month. As of 2022, Ras Laffan Port operates six facilities for handling the larger classes of LNG carriers, including Q-Flex and Q-Max, and four wharves for smaller gas-tankers.

The LNG carriers, too, should be the focus of any comprehensive logistic overhaul. No maritime transportation system is complete without a fleet of vessels. Qatar has placed orders for new cargo ships and tankers, as the Gulf nation prepares itself to double its LNG output by 2027.

QatarEnergy ordered four oceangoing LNG carriers to South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in 2021. Two similar vessels were commissioned to another Korean shipbuilder, Samsung Heavy Industries. These will be the first ones in a series of 60-100 new LNG carriers which will be commissioned to Korean shipyards by 2027 at an estimated cost of USD19 billion. All commissioned LNG carriers will be operated by Nakilat, which already operates the world’s largest LNG fleet.

The simultaneous expansion and overhaul of the fleet and ports, for both cargo and LNG transportation, means that Qatar has a long-term plan to become something more than a regional maritime hub; the Gulf nation is gearing up to become a modern-day maritime power, in keeping with the Qatar National Vision 2030. The country’s massive LNG reserves coupled with the rise of global demand for energy is a major driving force of the sector’s expansion at present.

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