Small port in Kuwait is among the country's planned marine projects.

Port construction is booming in mideastern countries seeking to boost their economies and plan for more energy production or imports.

Large jobs are under way or announced in Oman, Turkey, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait and even Libya, where suspended work in Benghazi and Tripoli is being renegotiated and contracts are progressing, say officials and construction executives.

Kuwait Oil Co. has tapped Istanbul-based contractor STFA to build a new $486-million port to handle up to 70 oil tankers at the Al-Ahmadi refinery. The project also includes harbor expansion. Set to finish in 2016, the work will boost oil output to 4 million barrels per day by 2020, says Managing Director Ahmad Al-Rushaid.

STFA's bid came in just 1.5% below that of Hyundai's, "demonstrating how tight the construction market is right now," CEO Mehmet Ali Neyzi told ENR. It is the company's first venture in Kuwait, he says, although it is active in other Persian Gulf and North Africa countries, including work on a $290-million port expansion for Qatar Petroleum and the $1.35-billion Duqm port on Oman's Arabian Sea coast.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco signed a funding pact in December to build Nador West Med, a massive Mediterranean energy port and a cornerstone of the country's $8.7-billion port development plan.

That effort, with combinations of public and private financing, includes new Atlantic Ocean coast ports—a $451-million bulk port project at Safi, south of Casablanca for which STFA was awarded the construction work last October, says Neyzi. Also planned is Kenitra Atlantique, a new port and industrial complex near Rabat.

Neyzi sees more work in Turkey, which is developing new energy sources, including a new petroleum export port at Yarimca for the Tupras refinery.

Turkey recently privatized natural-gas distribution in most of its cities. STFA holds concessions in 10, making it the country's second-largest distributor. U.S. shale-gas imports could play a role: "We are trying to reduce reliance on Russia," Neyzi says. He foresees construction of a new import terminal in Turkey's northern Aegean region.

In Libya, a unit of the National Oil Corp. intends to expand the existing Azziwiya port facilities, 50 km west of Tripoli, by constructing a fully protected harbor to increase the country's capacity to handle transportation of crude oil, various refined products, asphalt and liquefied gas.

Neyzi says there is increasingly fierce competition from Chinese and South Korean companies in key Mid-East markets, but also an emphasis on using local companies in consortia.