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Strabag ‘bags’ another deal

Stefan Altziebler

With the recent 75-million euro order to build two airports in Oman-Sohar and Adam City under Strabag’s belt, this construction giant is on top of its game. Austrian Trade Commission presents excerpts of the interview with Stefan Altziebler, general manager, Strabag Oman as published in Muscat Daily

A subsidiary of BAU HOLDING STRABAG Group based in Austria and Germany, Strabag Oman LLC was established in 1971 in Oman. As pioneers in the road construction industry, Strabag has helped the Sultanate bridge infrastructure gaps by building roads across the length and breadth of the country. Over the last three decades, Strabag has successfully completed contracts for roads, bridges, commercial complexes, dams and harbour developments as well as many other important constructions. The company currently generates revenues of 115 million euros with 2,500 employees in the country.
In Oman, Strabag recently received a 75-million euro order to build two airports, one in Sohar and the other in Adam City. Stefan Altziebler, general manager, Strabag Oman, spoke to Muscat Daily about major upcoming projects in the country, competition from overseas companies and its future plans. Elaborating on the various projects in the construction sector in 2010 and 2011, Altziebler says, ”There were a lot of tenders in the first half of 2010 which, because of different reasons, were delayed. So these will be submitted in the second half of 2010. These tenders are for several roadwork and port projects; for example, the liquid terminal at Salalah Port. I think there will also be some more small ports. From the roadworks side, there are some tenders now like the Bid Bid to Sur project, which in my opinion is the biggest roadworks project in 2010 and is worth hundreds of millions of rials. Then there are some projects tendered in the first part of 2010 but which shall be awarded and begun in the second half of 2010, like the Ad Daris to Yanqul road, which is worth about RO20mn, and Ibri to Ad Daris and Miskin, with different options such as roundabouts or flyovers making the price range from RO40mn to RO80mn. “Adds he, There has also been contracts awarded for around 800km of internal roads by the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, mainly in the northern part of Oman. These will start in the second half of 2010. Then there were some tenders of airports. One was Duqm, which will be awarded in the second half of 2010. We also work on the Sohar and Adam airports, and the tenders for the terminals should take place in the second half of 2010. There is also a bigger project, the Duqm Port roads, which will be awarded in 2010. In Muscat, we have the widening of the Ghubrah bridge on the highway, and this is now under tender. The expressway from Muscat to Buraimi should also come in the second half of 2010.”

Altziebler also discusses the increased competition with the advent of international companies in the Oman market. However, he was of the opinion that even with the influx of different types of competitors into the market, Strabag has been able to bag important roadwork projects in 2009 and 2010 alone Says he, “We have been building internal roads, but never the big road projects we are getting now. Maybe there are too many companies not able to do the projects on which they are bidding, but there are pre-qualifications so the authorities can select the companies. But sometimes companies
who are not able to do the job end up getting it.”
On been queried about the fluctuating material prices and its effect on Strabag , says Altziebler, “The main construction material which we do not produce is bitumen. We had a peak in bitumen last year. It went down 15 to 20 per cent and now we are at a level where it does not change. The second is steel. Steel prices went up from RO150 to 600 per tonne, but it is back to between RO220-230. For the future, I do not see a lot of changes. There will be fluctuations of five or ten per cent, but there will be no big changes like we have seen in the past. The cement market is slightly down by about ten per cent, and maybe it will go up 15 to 20 per cent in the next two to three years.”
As for the construction giant’s future plans Stefan Altziebler is quick to respond. Says he, “Our main business is roadworks. We have been doing this for 40 years. We also like to do ports. The bigger ports are done but there is still a lot of work on smaller ports. We are also looking at special constructions like terminals and airports. Dams are also part of our work which will come strongly now and for the next few years. In the Batinah area a lot of dams should come up and there are also flood protection dams in Muscat, like in Amerat. We are mainly organised for roadworks, but we can cover all that construction and get support from our mother company in Europe.”