MEED’s Qatar Infrastructure conference in London this July highlighted major projects and important issues for all of those working in the country. Not least the engineering challenges that face companies and clients in Doha. Qatar Railways Company Deputy CEO Geoff Brian Mee was emphatic about the need to get started on the metro project, phase one of which has to be complete by 2020. He revealed that rail plans would cost $35bn (previous estimates were around $25bn) and urged companies to form consortia immediately in order to be prepared when ITBs were issued over the coming months.
“Between June 2011 and June 2012 we have to get the contracts out for the civil engineering packages,” he said. This means contracts for getting the TBM into the ground, boring the 119km of underground passages and line and create the station boxes. Mee outlined the challenge facing Qatar, which at the same time shows how ambitious the project is. “To go from a Greenfield site to four major metro lines in one bound has never been attempted before. The scale of this job really makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up on end. None of the team that are doing this have ever attempted to spend $35bn in 10 years. But then no one else has either and we are looking for a lot of friends to help us with that.”
“Friends” looking to work in Qatar are plentiful. Their credit lines need to be too. Contractors need around 30 per cent of the project value upfront, with project owners requiring a 10 per cent advance payment guarantee, a 10 per cent performance guarantee and a 10 per cent retention bond. “So on $1bn project a contractor needs $333m worth of bonds and it is not easy for a contractor to get that,” Enrico Grino told delegates. Enrico is assistant general manager, head of structured and project finance, Qatar National Bank.
Other issues revealed at the conference included an update on the logistics city project from Ahmed Al-Kowsi, vice president projects and logistics service at Qatar Navigation. Construction could begin at the end of 2011 with tender documents issued on 17 October for award on 11 December.
On the sidelines I also picked up some interesting rumours. Major project management companies were being interviewed in London for the Qatar World Cup 2022 project manager for the infrastructure development and these sources said it was down to 6 companies with an award expected after the summer.