JEDDAH Islamic Port's Northern Container Terminal (NCT) is expected to handle around 1.8 million TEU this year, its most senior official has told Seatrade Maritime News.
"We are likely to reach about 1.8 million TEU this year. All the major lines are customers," said Gulf Stevedoring managing director Mike Power.
Gulf Stevedoring is owned 51 per cent owned the UAE's Gulftainer and 49 per cent by Saudi shareholders, notes Seatrade Maritime News of Colchester, Essex.
NCT capacity is 2.5 million TEU, said Mr Power. "It is the biggest transshipment terminal in Jeddah."
Red Sea Gateway Terminal, the second operator at JIP, with a concession to 2040, claims to have a capacity of two million a year.
DP World is understood to be handling 700,000-800,000 TEU a year at JIP's South Terminal, on capacity of 2.4 million TEU, following the departure of MSC to King Abdullah Port (KAP) at Rabigh.
Through the acquisition of Gulf Stevedoring in 2013, Gulftainer acquired the management rights to NCT, as well as two terminals at Jubail Commercial and Industrial Ports.
Mr Power said Jeddah was at the epicentre of global disruption caused by the downturn in freight rates and challenges thrown up by increasing vessel size.
"It's impacted by everything. There are the big ships going up the Red Sea. You've got the ever increasing size of the ships that are now being put on to some services calling in Jeddah.
"We see some of the lines are consolidating different services due to overcapacity. Every day seems to be a challenge at the moment," he said.
Mr Power said limitations stemming from a draught of 15.2 metres at NCT were hampering progress. "You have got to look at deepening the quay wall. It's at its limit. So you've got to strengthen the quay walls in order to go down deeper. And then of course you're looking at much bigger, heavier cranes.?
Mr Power said he was positive about the company's proposal to the Saudi Ports Authority (SEAPA) for the retendering of NCT pending the award of a new concession in 2019, where it hopes to remain incumbent.
"The Saudi Port Authority is very keen to develop Jeddah. We believe that, because of the changes that are taking place, and the requirement for ULCS berths, Jeddah needs to be upgraded now so as not to lose any ground," he said.
Petrochemicals exports from Jubail Industrial Zone were the driver of growth at the port there. "It has been growing very fast. Last year, it registered 25 ; per cent growth. This year is a little bit slower, probably in the region of 8 per cent. This year we should finish just over 400,000 TEU."
He also looked forward to more clarity from authorities on plans for the rail link between Jubail and Dammam.
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