Alba: the game-changer for Bahrain’s industrial sector

Alba: the game-changer for Bahrain’s industrial sector

Project spending to support growth

Bahrain continues to benefit from exceptionally strong growth drivers in the infrastructure projects area

January 2018

Project commencements in Bahrain saw a step-change in 2016, and were still up 20 per cent year-on-year (yoy) in the second quarter (Q2) of 2017, according to data from Bahrain’s Economic Development Board (EDB).

The total value of awarded projects as of Q3 was just below $3.5 billion while the aggregate value of projects that have commenced stood at $3.3 billion. The cumulative fund disbursement to date stand at less than $1.3 billion, EDB said in its latest Bahrain Economic Quarterly (BEQ) report.

Bahrain continues to benefit from exceptionally strong growth drivers in the infrastructure projects area, the report said. According to MEED Projects, the active pipeline of projects in Bahrain stood at $83.6 billion in October, up some 21.4 per cent in year-on-year (YoY) terms.

According to the Ministry of Works, Municipal Affairs, and Urban Planning, 627 investment projects with a footprint of 4.9 million sq m were authorised in Bahrain in the first three quarters of 2017. This was up from 560 projects and 2.1 m sq m a year earlier. The aggregate value of the projects increased from BD526 million to BD1.3 billion, the report said.

Some of the major projects making progress are:

• Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) closed the first tranche of around $700 million from Export Credit Agency (ECA) covered facilities to fund its Line 6 expansion project. The credit facility will support Alba›s Power Station 5 and Power Distribution System projects. Alba is now looking to secure the second tranche of financing to expedite the work on its Line 6 expansion project and is expected to start production in early 2019.

* Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) awarded a $4.2 billion engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contract to a consortium led by TechnipFMC for the Bapco modernisation programme. The consortium also comprises South Korean firm Samsung Engineering and Spain-based Técnicas Reunidas. The scheme aims to expand the production capacity of the existing Sitra oil refinery to 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the current 267,000 bpd.

• The Bahrain LNG terminal is expected to be commissioned in 2019. The pioneering public-private-partnership project has a total estimated value of $1 billion.

• The Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) has received proposals for a planned 100 MW photovoltaic solar power plant. The facility is due to be tendered in February and commissioned in 2019. The Government’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan seeks to produce 5 per cent of Bahrain’s energy needs from renewables by 2025, a proportion that is due to increase further to 10 per cent in 2035.

• EWA has received prequalification bids for the planned Al Dur 2 independent water and power project (IWPP). The new facility is expected to have a power generation capacity of 1,200-1,500 MW and a desalination capacity of 50 million imperial gallons a day. EWA is expected to sign a 20-year power purchase agreement as the plant becomes operational in 2020. Power demand in Bahrain grew by 3.5 per cent and is expected to increase by an annual average of 6.4 per cent in the medium term.

• The Ministry of Works, Municipal Affairs, and Urban Planning has received bids for the expansion of the Tubli wastewater plant. The project is designed to double the capacity of the plant from 200,000 cubic metre per day (cmpd) to 400,000 cmpd. The value of the project is expected to be close to $400 million.

• Tender documents are due to be released for a feasibility study of the King Hamad Causeway in April 2018. The project which will establish a 25 km road and rail causeway between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to parallel the current King Fahad Causeway. The rail segment is 70 km and may be structured separately.

• Bids have been submitted for the North Manama Causeway and Busaiteen link road project which will create a fourth bridge between Manama and the island of Muharraq.

• Eagle Hills has appointed the main contractor for a $270 million Marassi Shores Residences project providing 287 units. Another scheme, Marassi Boulevard, will provide 240 residential units and a retail area. The Marassi al Bahrain master development is expected to house 22,000 people and provide 1,200 jobs.

The GCC Development Program – a pledge by Bahrain’s neighbours in 2011 to provide $10 billion in grants over 10 years to boost investment in infrastructure and housing– is seeing a major scaling up of activity as the pipeline of tendered projects becomes active.

In general, activity in the real estate sector has been characterized by continuity. According to data collected by the Survey and Land Registration Bureau, the total value of property transactions in Q2 stood at BD238.1 million, as compared to BD290 million in Q1.

The aggregate value of real estate trading during the first seven months was BD613.6 million. The monthly average of BD87.8 million. This compared to a 20216 monthly average of BD86.6 million. Local buyers have decisively dominated the market in 2017, the report said.

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