ISLAMABAD - Gwadar shipyard project is gathering pace as efforts have been expedited to complete land acquisition process to start construction work.

According to official sources, Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal Gwadar visited Gwadar Development Authority on the weekend in an effort to ensure that land acquisition process is completed at the earlier.

Speaking on the occasion, the minister said that the shipyard is vital for the Gwadar port and it will open up a new era of development in the area, adding t Gwadar Shipyard will be a source of development and generating revenue for the country.

Unveiled in 2008, the Gwadar shipyard project is expected to be completed within three to five years with capacity to build very large and ultra large crude carriers.

The project also envisages dry docking facilities for repairing and maintenance of commercial ships including oil and gas tankers. Gwadar shipyard would initially offer ship repair and maintenance services at two dry docks with the capacity to handle 600,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage).

The incumbent Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi has played a key role in shaping of the project.

From the outset he has been strongly supporting Gwadar shipyard project on the ground that it is about time to integrate and optimise available technical know-how and basic industrial infrastructure to support research and development (R&D) facilities to further strengthen the process of self-reliance.

It would eventually lead to shipbuilding with capacity of constructing up to VLCC and ULCC.

At present, the state-owned Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) is the lone facility available in Pakistan for shipbuilding, maintenance and repair works.

But this facility is largely catering to the needs of Pakistan Navy whose responsibilities have increased to meet the defence needs of the country in the wake of multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that connects the deep sea Gwadar port with China.

The government is also upgrading the facilities at the KSEW by enhancing its capacity by installing Syncrolift ship-lift-and-transfer system.

Nevertheless, this facility would remain dedicated to meet the future needs of Pakistan Navy.

Experts believed Gwadar shipyard would become a very viable commercial venture because of the lack of adequate shipbuilding facilities in the region.

Iran, which operates the largest commercial shipping fleet, has also developed basic know how, yet it will take a long time to become a viable shipbuilding nation.

None of the Gulf Arab countries have a proper shipbuilding facility except Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard (ASRY) in Bahrain offering limited dry docking facilities.

UAE, is another destination offering facilities for limited repairing and maintenance works yet most of the commercial ships opt for Singapore for such services.

Experts believed that since Gwadar shipyard would eventually be the main facility for repairing and maintenance works because of its close proximity to the Persian Gulf through which nearly 38 per cent of the world’s precious goods largely oil and gas are carried.