May 12, 2012 / 4:51 PM / in 6 years

Iraq seeks bidders to start work on giant port

BASRA, Iraq, May 12 (Reuters) - Iraq has issued a tender for the building of a breakwater in the Gulf, the country’s state port company said on Saturday, the first stage of construction in a giant $6 billion port scheme shelved under former dictator Saddam Hussein.

“The closing date for the tender is July 15, and offers will be opened on July 16,” Anmar al-Safi, a spokesman at the General Company for Ports of Iraq, told Reuters.

Interested companies will be invited to attend a meeting on May 28 to discuss tender details, Safi said. The breakwater is expected to cost around 400 billion dinars ($340 million).

The port, known as Grand Faw, is to be built south of Iraq’s oil hub, Basra. Iraq has had plans to build a modern trade hub in the Gulf since the 1980s.

Grand Faw will include 7,000 metres (23,000 feet) of dock to receive container ships. The dock for general cargo will be 3,500 metres.

Iraq has huge untapped oil reserves and since the 1980s has been sitting on plans for extravagant development projects, such as a metro railway system for traffic-choked Baghdad and a high-speed railway linking Baghdad to Basra.

Officials frequently talk about restarting such projects, but have made little headway after years of war and economic sanctions. Much of the country has only intermittent electricity and many areas lack running water. (Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Barry Malone and Toby Chopra)

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