Saudi Arabia: short-term solution to cement shortage

Saudi Arabia: short-term solution to cement shortage
13 February 2012

The acute cement shortage in Makkah province might be on its way to be solved with the daily injection of 10,000t of cement (200,000 bags) into the region, sources at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) said on Sunday.  

However, talking to Arab News, Saleem Al-Harbi, chairman of Manar Construction Company and a member of the board of directors of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, did not believe that these quantities would be enough to stabilise the cement market in the province.

“A number of giant projects are currently being implemented in Makkah, Mina and Jeddah. These quantities of cement will be inadequate to meet their demands,” he said.

Al-Harbi, however, considered the new volumes of cement that were brought to the region a compromise solution at the moment. “These quantities must be increased in the future to meet the demands of the ongoing mega-projects in Makkah and Jeddah,” he said.

Tihama (Tahamah) Cement Factory had recently started the experimental operation of its second line, supervised by Swiss consultant PEG, to supply the Makkah region with about 5000tpd of cement. When added to the same quantity coming from Al-Safwah factory, the problem was expected to ease in the western region.

Meanwhile, Saudi Cement Saudi Cement Company reached agreement on Saturday to sell 200,000t of clinker to Arabian Cement Company so that the latter grinds and packs the resulting cement in bags to meet the rising demand for cement bags by citizens in the western region, and in support of the directions of the MCI.

Abdul Rahman Fakeeh, chairman of Jabal Omar Company, said the cement shortage and its high prices had adversely affected the implementation of construction and development projects in the region, especially the Jabal Omar Project, which included 32 housing towers and five-star hotels. He said the instability of the cement market drove him to shift the implementation of the project to another private company.

Prince Abdul Rahman bin Masaad, chairman of the Southern Cement Company, has said the second kiln line of the Tihama factory would work at full production if Aramco steadily provided it with fuel. “It will then be able to contribute to resolving the problem of cement shortage,” he said. He noted that the demand for cement in the kingdom increased by more than 12% during the period 2001-11.

The prince said through effective cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce, the company was able to contribute to containing the problem of cement shortage with its three factories in Jazan, Bisha and Tihama, which together produce 24,000tpd of clinker.

Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah told a local daily recently that the Al-Safwah plant injected about 5000t of cement (100,000 bags) in Makkah region last week. He expected the current crisis to come to an end very soon.

“Work on a number of constructional projects has been delayed due to a lack of sufficient quantities of cement,” said Saad Al-Mabti, member of the committee of national contractors at the Saudi Council of Chambers.

According to Al-Mabti, the crisis has extended to the western, eastern and southern parts of the kingdom with the latter being the most affected despite the existence of many cement factories.

Al-Mabti warned that a number of private projects were facing serious threats and might completely stop work if contractors were not given the amount of cement they required.


Published under Cement News