Med./Middle East/African Trade - Middle East Port Review 2004

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

Port traffic and projects rise despite hot political climate.
By George Lauriat, Editor-in-Chief, AJOT
The Suez Canal is a pretty fair barometer of the state of shipping in the Middle East. When the winds of political misfortune blow, Canal traffic declines. When war breaks out in the Middle East, the Suez Canal can slam shut. It is hard to underestimate just how important a link the Canal is to the Arab states and to the world. The Canal handles approximately 26% of the world’s oil shipments and over 40% of the Arab world’s cargo When war clouds gathered over Iraq, Canal authorities feared the worst. The worst hasn’t occurred, however, and indeed, the Suez Canal, like ports throughout the region, have had a surprisingly good run of fortune. For example, the Suez Canal handled [see chart] over 15,600 ships in 2003, the first time since 1995 that it cracked the 15,000 mark. Ship traffic amounted to nearly 550 million net tons of shipping. More importantly, the Canal generated a record $2.57 billion, up from $1.8 billion in 2002. Some of the increase in Suez Canal traffic was due to the anticipation of the war in Iraq. But a rising volume of containerized goods flowing from China and the Far East to Europe and all-water traffic to the US East Coast ports has provided a strong underpinning to the surge in traffic.
The Suez Canal Authority has embarked on a $441 million, three-staged project that will widen the Canal from 345 m to 400m, and dredge it to a depth of 72 feet. When the project is completed in 2010, it will enable the Canal to handle vessels upward to 360,000 dwt or the size of a VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier).
There has been development on both ends of the Canal to accommodate the increased box traffic. Recently, the Suez Canal Container terminal at Port Said East Port opened for business. The 600 teu Chesham called at the port on October 3, 2004. Earlier this year Maersk’s APM Terminals bought out ECT’s 50% share, bringing the Danish group’s stake to 60%. The terminal has a quay length of 1,200 m and an overall area of 60 hectares. The terminal boasts twelve Post Panamax Ship to Shore Gantry cranes together with 36-yard cranes and other handling equipment. Initial draft will be 16.5m, later increased to 17.5 m. Suez Canal Container Terminal is strategically located at the North end of the Suez Canal, on the newly dredged Eastern bypass. At this location, deviation from the normal Asia/Europe route is minimal. Additionally, two recently opened bridges provide access to Egypt’s hinterland across the Suez Canal.
Dubai Ports Authority
The increased box traffic in the Middle East is probably best characterized by the growth in Dubai. Dubai Ports Authority (DPA) handled 5.15 million teus in 2003, a 23% increase over the previous year. Part of the growth was attributable to the performance of Jeddah South Container Terminal. In 2003, Jeddah South Container Terminal was the first Saudi Arabian Terminal to exceed one million teus, with a total of 1.033 million teus for the year 2003, compared to 898,787 teus in 2002. The DPA’s Master Plan is moving to keep pace with the increased box traffic. DPA completed the development phase of Berth 11 at Jebel Ali Terminal and the expansion of its container yard, adding 116,000 square meters. Around 120,000 square meters was added to Berths 22 and 23. The development of Berth 18, 19 and 21 is ongoing. Berth 18 and the backyard was completed in July 2004. The new quay has been dredged to 17m and dredging is now in progress in the basin. Berth 19 and 21 will be completed by early 2005. The reshaped Quay 4 will add 400 meters of quay length. Currently, Berth 16, Row G is being converted into a Reefer stack. This area is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. The area where CFS 1 used to be is being redeveloped into RTG beams and should be ready by December 2004. As part of the Container Terminal expansion, Berths 10/10A has been redeveloped to increase ground slots. The DPA is redeveloping General Cargo berths on Quay 5 to form new container b

George Lauriat's avatar

American Journal of Transportation