Throughput volumes at Qatar's premier port at Doha are set to receive a boost from the country's strong economic performance over the next few quarters, driven almost exclusively by the non-hydrocarbon sector. We forecast healthy growth of 3.1% and 3.5% in tonnage and box throughput at the port of Doha in 2014.
We forecast Qatar's real GDP to grow 5.4% and 4.9% over 2014 and 2015 respectively, compared to an estimated 5.7% in 2013. Although oil and gas production has reached close to full capacity and will remain flat throughout the year, we expect broad-based growth in the non-hydrocarbon economy. We see construction activity outperforming this year, on the back of continued progress in large-scale infrastructure projects covering everything from transport networks to utilities and residential and commercial builds, which will support growth in dry bulk handling. The services sector will also continue its rapid expansion, supported by a fast-rising population and robust consumer demand, and this will lead to an increase in the number of boxes being handled at the facility.
We forecast real private consumption growth of 11.0% in 2014 and 8.0% in 2015, up from an average of 6.2% in 2009-12. On the back of high demand for foreign workers in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the country's fast-rising resident population will fuel growth in the retail, business services, real estate, and trade and hospitality sectors, all of which demand imports of containerised goods. Qatar's total population reached a record high of 2.11mn in February 2014 according to QSA data - up by 10.4% from a year earlier.
This growth in the general economy, private consumption in particular, will support box volumes at the port of Doha. BMI projects a slight acceleration in the rate of growth in 2014. We forecast throughput expansion of 3.5%, following 2013's estimated growth of 3.0%, taking throughput levels to 504,862 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). We note that this is far above the port of Doha's nominal operating capacity of 400,000TEUs. In terms of total tonnage handled, we are forecasting expansion of 3.1% in 2014, from 2013's estimated 2.9%. This would take the throughput to 8.95mn tonnes, from an estimated 8.68mn tonnes in 2013. The upgrade to our macroeconomic forecasts adds upside risk to these projections, though we are for now maintaining our shipping forecasts from last quarter.
|Growing Into New Facility|
|Port Of Doha/New Doha Port Throughput (TEUs), 2009-2018|
This growth in throughput levels at the current port of Doha has led to the need for a larger facility. The current port is reported to have suffered from congestion in recent years and is not sufficiently equipped to cater to Qatar's growing demands. At present, the port is located on the corniche of the capital city. It has a shallow draught, meaning it can accommodate only relatively small feeder vessels, and its location adjacent to Doha has resulted in trucks coming and going from the facility, causing traffic jams in the city and resulting in delays at the port as they queue to enter and exit.