13 February 2018

New Container Freight Terminal to Expand at Iraqi Port  

However BGT Faces City Centre Competition

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Shipping News Feature IRAQ – Global port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) is continuing its developments of Iraq's port sector with its second phase investment in new container freight handling infrastructure well underway at its Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT) at the Port of Umm Qasr.

In demonstrating its commitment to the Iraqi ports sector via large scale investment in new terminal infrastructure and container handling systems, ICTSI says it will have invested in excess of $250 million upon completion of the current second phase expansion scheme, of which the lion’s share has been allocated for a new berth, yard construction, and state-of-the-art handling equipment.

The phase two expansion, to be completed in stages by the third quarter of 2019, is set to deliver 400 metres of new quay with a draft of 14 metres, alongside a new 30-hectare yard area and a 15-hectare secure parking area. Three post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes are to be installed along the quay, and seven rubber tired gantries (RTG) will provide state-of-the-art stacking and handling power in the yard area. The overall design provides for handling container vessels of up to 9,000 TEU capacity. Upon completion of the second phase, BGT will have an annual handling capacity of over one million TEUs.

ICTSI says that this second phase development was triggered by strong demand, and is a reflection of the high service levels and modern facilities offered by BGT to shipping lines and cargo owners. The latest round of development also includes the acquisition of a cutter suction dredger with the dual objective of ensuring strict adherence to the construction schedule and maintaining the draft alongside the terminal’s new and existing berths. Phillip Marsham, BGT Executive Officer, said:

“We are listening to our customers and are proactively meeting their needs. The second phase expansion will not only allow us to respond immediately to scale needs, but also deliver added flexibility to the whole container handling operation with diverse benefits flowing to our customers.”

In the first quarter of 2017, BGT completed the first phase of its terminal greenfield project, which included the construction of a new 250-metre berth and a 15-hectare yard area. Last year also saw BGT’s expansion of its service portfolio with the development of quay and yard areas configured for the safe and efficient handling of oil and gas project cargoes, allowing BGT to establish successful partnerships with the oil and gas industry.

Operations at Berth 21 likewise commenced in January 2018, introducing a dedicated roll-on, roll-off (Ro/Ro) facility, where international standard operational practices remain. Hans-Ole Madsen, ICTSI Senior Vice President and Regional Head of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, commented:

“Our commitment to helping Iraq develop international standard port infrastructure continues to expand. We invested for the long term in fixed infrastructure since day one. We continue to receive strong and most encouraging assistance from the General Company for Ports in Iraq and other government bodies in this respect. We are confident that we can continue to build on this productive partnership to the benefit of port users and the country as a whole.”

Competition comes in the form of Hutchison Ports, the group’s holding company acquired Nawah Port Management (NPM) in August. NPM runs the only container terminal in Basra’s city centre and the company has now rebranded as Hutchison Ports Basra. NPM, launched only in 2011 as North America Western Asia Holdings and the very next year signed agreements with the Moosawi Family. Hutchison claims that its facilities mean faster customs clearance than that at Umm Qasr port where they allege this can take up to six weeks.

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