Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries is said to have inked an order for two 9,000-teu containerships from a Singapore-based shipowner.
Stephen May, director of facilities development for Qatar Gas Transport Co (QGTC, or Nakilat), says the first two phases of the project - which will comprise the two new Q-max-capacity dry docks plus facilities for the repair and conversion of large and medium size vessels - will start operations in the first quarter of 2010.
May says work is focussing on the construction of the dry docks and quays and the erection of steelwork for the support facilities. It is expected to reach its peak this summer, with between 4,500 and 5,000 workers expected to be employed on site.
The project's fourth phase - facilities for the construction of small high-value ships of less than 120 metres in length - should be ready by the end of this year. May explains that this will be used to build tugs and supply boats to support Qatar's energy industries and renew the coastguard fleet.
The yard has two more phases still at the feasibility stage. Phase 3 will accommodate the fabrication and maintenance of offshore structures and Phase 5 will provide for the repair of small ships.
Construction of the massive new yard complex is driven by Qatar's desire to be self sufficient in maintaining and handling its burgeoning LNG fleet, which will be so crucial to its exports.
The shipyard activities are grouped under subsidiary Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine, which is 80% owned by the Qatari company, with Singapore's Keppel Corp picking up the balance. The company was formed in March 2007 specifically to manage the design, construction and operation of the yard.
Nakilat's main activity is as an LNG shipowner. The company is the sole owner of 25 LNG vessels, and has a stake in a further 29 in partnership with other companies. In addition, it co-owns four LPG carriers in partnership with fellow Qatari operator Q-Ship, has a ship-agency business and runs a towage-services company for Ras Laffan port in partnership with Switzer-Wijsmuller.