The ports of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia's ports grew as separate entities without much standardization though their multi-century history. For many years, they were similar to the stereotype in Lawrence of Arabia. They, like all ports were designed to handle breakbulk goods only. In the 1970s, the Saudi government started to restructure the port system. They were re-engineered to handle containerization and the growing non-oil Saudi economy. In 1976, a centeral Ports Authority was created to administer the ports. Tariffs, handling rates and even equipment were standardized across the kingdom's six major ports. The ports are now standardized completely and employ almost exclusivly Saudi (male) nationals. The pilotage is exclusivly composed of Saudi citizens in good social standing.
Saudi Arabia has six major ports. Two are in the Persian gulf and four are in the Red Sea. The ports are capable of handling all types of cargo. Crude oil is handled mainly by privately owned terminals.
The six ports are:
- Jeddah Islamic Port-This port is in the middle of the Red Sea and has 58 berths,which can load all types of containerized cargo, bulk goods and grain. It is also a passenger port that handles many Muslims making the journey to Mecca. This port also does repairs in the King Fahad Ship Repair Yard. The shipyard is fully equipped with two drydocks and quite a bit of equipment. It can handle both 60Hz and 50Hz electrical systems as well.
- King Abdul Aziz Port, Dammam-This is one of two Persian Gulf ports, and is ideally situated for moving equipment to oil fields. This port has Ro-Ro berths, enabling the fast unloading of cars and military vehicles.
- King Fahad Industrial Port, Jubail-This port, along with the Yanbu port is named for the current king. Jubail is the other port city on the Persian Gulf. There is a small refinery here that exports refined petrochemical products, mainly to other Muslim countries. This port is also a major agriculture export/import center.
- Jubail Commercial Port-This is a newly constructed port designed to handle passengers, along with most shipped goods. The main feature of this port is its ability to store several square kilometers worth of containers and bulk goods. This port also features spill containment and fire fighting equipment in abundance. Heavy equipment can also be unloaded at this port, making it a strategic port in a wartime situation.
- King Fahad Industrial Port, Yanbu-This port handles mainly oil that is not pumped through a privately owned terminal. Containers are also loaded here.
- Yanbu Commercial Port-Passenger ships use this facility. Pilgrims traveling to Madinah disembark here. Some cargo is imported here, as the facility can handle medium sized Ro-Ro ships. Barley and grain is exported from this port as well.
- Jizan Port-This port is in the southern part of the Red sea. This port handles goods for the southern provinces of the Kingdom. This is the smallest of the Saudi ports, and vessels are limited to 220 meters long and 10 meters deep. Like all the other ports, it can handle containers. It also exports bulk barley and imports livestock (except pork).
- Dhiba Port-This is located in the north of the read sea, near the Suez canal. This is a small port, and handles livestock, barley and Ro-Ro cargo. Its one advantage is its proximity to the Suez canal.
The US military has an interesting relationship with the kingdom and its ports. The US military has yet to ship any materials or soldiers into Saudi ports in preparation for a second gulf war. Saudi Arabia has so far forbade it. Instead, the military is using Kuwaiti and UAE ports and bases.
Moving Oil: Who, where, and how
Saudi Arabia exports mainly oil. There are many miles of pipelines carrying crude oil, natural gas, and refined products. The Arabian American Oil Company is similar to Alyeska in Alaska. This conglomerate owns the Saudi oil depots. It was started by Standard Oil, later BP and other oil companies bought into it, and in 1973, the Saudi government aqquired a 25 percent stake in the company. In 1988 it became Saudi Aramco, and included pipelines, oil depots, ships, and all the neccissary infastructure. Oddly, a south Korean company has a large stake in Aramco.The Price of Oil, by Jennifer details supply and demand issues for crude and refined petrolium quite well.
The Aramco conglomerate includes the following major components:
- Oil Fields-Ghawar and Safaniya are the two major oil fields owned and operated by Aramco. Ghawar is the world's largest, and is about 70 billion barrels large. It measures 280 by 30 kilometers. Safaniya is 50 by 15 kilometers and holds 35 billion barrels. It is an offshore field in the persian gulf.
- Pipelines-There are currently 20000 kilometers of pipeline in the Kingdom. They handle natural gas, crude oil, and LPG. The pipes run from the oil fields to the terminals and refineries, and amongst the refineries and ports.
- Oil Terminals-The terminals handle 4000 tankers a year. They are located at Ras Tanura and Ju'aymah in the Persian gulf and Jiddah, Rabigh, Jaizan, Yanbu and Duba on the Red Sea, convieniently near the Suez canal. Yanbu and Ju'aymah are equipped for Liquified petrolium (butane and proprane) transfers.
- Refineries-There are major refineries located at Rabigh, Yanbu,and Jiddah. The refined product is then loaded onto ships at these ports. Ju'aymah is also equipped to refine LPG gasses only.
- Shipping-A subsidiary called Vela International Marine is the shipping component of Aramco. They own 21 tankers and four specialty ships built for refined petrochemical products like butane and propane.
- Personal knowledge of shipping
- http://www.ports.gov.sa/ -the Saudi ports authority.
- http://www.saudiaramco.com/ -Saudi Oil Company
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