Intenatioanal firms bid to rebuild Beirut port for Lebanon’s strategic location, energy reserves: analysts
One year after the huge explosions that destroyed the Port of Beirut, a host of international companies are bidding to reconstruct it, in the light of Lebanon’s strategic location and potential offshore oil and gas resources, analysts told Xinhua.
Lebanon’s potential oil and gas resources have led to increased activities at the Port of Beirut, said Elie Zakhour, chairman of Beirut’s international chamber of shipping.
“Oil and gas companies, for instance, need to buy equipment for exploration activities through the Port of Beirut since we don’t have any of them in Lebanon,” Zakhour told Xinhua.
Another factor in the international high interest in rebuilding the port is its strategic location, as it only takes three days for the containers leaving the port to reach the Gulf countries, Zakhour added.
A container terminal built in 2005, which provides fast trans-shipment services for foreign shipping companies at affordable prices, has added to the port’s importance, he noted.
Pierre Khoury, vice president of the Arab Chinese Cooperation and Development Association, told Xinhua that foreign countries are bidding for the reconstruction of the Beirut port against the background of the relentless international conflict over sea lanes and trade routes in the region.
However, Hilal Kashan, chair of the Political Studies Department at the American University of Beirut, said the importance of the Beirut port has been reduced with the development of other ports in the region.
Kashan deemed Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port as the new main hub for import and export activities in the region, noting that the recent international focus on the Beirut port aims at helping the Lebanese through the impact of the tragic explosions.
Zakhour said the container terminal was not fully destroyed but seriously damaged as only four out of the 16 cranes are still operating.
The Beirut Container Terminal Consortium, manager of the terminal, is unable to withdraw from its bank deposits in Lebanon to buy spare parts and replace the damaged equipment, he added.
The huge explosions that rocked the Port of Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020 destroyed its quay, 21 warehouses, four buildings and the firefighting department as well as the electrical power station and 70 percent of the contractors’ cranes.
It has been estimated that the port needs about 350 million U.S. dollars to restore its full operations.