Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Freight Ferry and Energy Ports Continue to Invest

Whilst Two Old Ships Return to Duty After Turmoil
Shipping News Feature
UK – FRANCE – With a constant stream of news regarding migrants, dangers and delays to freight drivers and ferries etc. it is nice to have some positive news from either side of the Channel as investment in ports and infrastructure continues. In France a comparatively trouble free year saw the new Channel Terminal in the Port of Dunkirk become operational this week whilst much further north last month Forth Ports announced the largest investment in the history of the Port of Dundee.

Forth Ports has plans to position the Port of Dundee at the forefront of the North Sea oil and gas decommissioning and offshore wind sectors and to this end has funded development of the quayside at the East end of the port, connecting to the existing Prince Charles Wharf. The quayside will offer heavy lift capability over its entire 200 metre length with an ultra-heavy lift pad at one end. This capability, coupled with a deep-water berth and significant land area of around 60 acres, will facilitate the handling of the largest cargoes, as demanded by these emerging North Sea industry sectors.

The quayside will effectively add both berthing and land capacity at the Port of Dundee and, once complete, will represent a significant increase in port capacity in the North East region. The construction process will take 18 months to complete with work starting immediately. Upon completion, the quayside will be 200 metres longer than currently and will be one of the strongest quaysides in Scotland, at a strength capability of 80 tonnes per square metre.

The strengthened quayside will be equipped to handle marine projects such as offshore anchor and chain servicing, which require such sturdy facilities, plus offshore wind turbine assembly and deployment activities, as well as operations and maintenance, for which the Port of Dundee is ideally placed due to its proximity to the proposed offshore wind farm developments in the Forth and Tay Estuaries. It is anticipated that the quayside would also enable Dundee to benefit from future North Sea oil and gas decommissioning projects.

Business at the Port of Dundee has grown in the past 12 months, with the port attracting a new general cargo tenant, as well handling and drying a record 60,000 tonnes of barley during harvest 2015, reflecting the importance of the port to the local agricultural sector. Renewed interest in Dundee from the passenger cruise sector will see cruise liner visits to the port increase from six in 2015 to a planned 10 in 2016, with further growth expected upon the opening of the V&A Museum of Design in 2017. The quayside development at Prince Charles Wharf will free up space within the port to accommodate further growth in these important sectors. Charles Hammond, Chief Executive of Forth Ports, said:

“This is an important, privately funded investment for the Port of Dundee which is ideally placed to service the needs of North Sea oil & gas, decommissioning and Scotland’s offshore wind sector over the coming years. The port’s existing skills base and location, combined with its riverside berths, deep water and rock-river bed, put the port in a key position to become a hub for these sectors for construction, operations and maintenance and for decommissioning.

“Our investment also puts Dundee in a position to benefit from offshore renewable projects such as Neart na Gaoithe which has the potential to deliver cost efficient renewable energy and economic benefits for Dundee. We are committed to investing in the port to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support these industries and for the city of Dundee to fully capitalise on the significant opportunities they present.”

Meanwhile in France a year relatively free of industrial unrest has resulted in the upgrading of the Port of Dunkirk as planned and the expansion of the new Terminal from 10 hectares up to 17. The multiple aims of the works, at a cost of almost €15 million, were to speed up ship turnaround times and improve staff safety whilst expanding parking areas, improve access to the motorway and upgrade border control speed and security.

The terminal was inaugurated last week in the presence of Peder Gellert Pedersen, Executive Vice-President DFDS, Carsten Jensen, Senior Vice-President DFDS, François Soulet de Brugière, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Dunkerque-Port, Philippe Bertonèche, Chair of the Development Board of Dunkerque-Port and Stéphane Raison, CEO of Dunkerque-Port, an apt gathering as, beside a tranche of European Union funding of €1.29 million, the bulk of the money came from Dunkerque-Port (€12+ million) and DFDS (€2 million).

The works included construction of the new DFDS ticket office building at the site entrance, which also contains administrative offices and staff facilities, plus six new passenger check-in booths and four freight check-in booths at the terminal entrance. Also renovation of the ferry terminal after check-in for passengers waiting to board with their vehicles, including the installation of a giant screen displaying passenger information.

DFDS also made the news recently after the seemingly never ending case of the demise of SeaFrance took a turn in what must surely be its final death throes. Two ships were drafted into the company fleet after DFDS finally took over some of the assets of Eurotunnel’s own ferry brand, MyFerryLink, including the RoPax ships Rodin and Berlioz. The past few months have seen the ships refurbished after the trashing they received at the hands of angry ex SCOP staff*.

The two vessels have now been rebranded and christened the Côte des Dunes and the Côte des Flandres respectively after outfitting at Dunkirk’s Damen shipyard. As well as a complete repaint the ships, each of which has 2,000 metres lane space for freight traffic, the vessels have been equipped with DFDS’s own ‘Road Kings’ lounge and restaurant areas.

*The SCOP situation has been fully covered in earlier stories.

Photo: The Ensco 100 Rig at the Port of Dundee.