Jebel Ali to boost capacity by 27%
Dubai’s leading port Jebel Ali plans to boost its annual container ships handling capacity by 27 per cent this year.
A new terminal will help cater for rising demand for petrochemicals and aluminium exports in the lead up to Expo2020 and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Jebel Ali port will open its $850 million third terminal for container ships by July, with the state-of-the-art-facility to be fully operational by the end of the year, Mohammed Al Muallem, DP World's senior vice-president and managing director, told energy information provider Platts on the sidelines of the Container Supply Chain Asia conference in Singapore.
"We are gearing up to expand our containers handling capacity because exports of petrochemicals are on the rise and import deliveries [into the Persian Gulf] are also expected to increase as infrastructure projects are taken up for the Dubai Expo in 2020 and football world cup in Qatar," Al Muallem said.
In the last five years, the UAE's polymer output has increased three-fold and was estimated around 25 million mt in 2012.
Previously, after delivering consumer goods into Jebel Ali, most container vessels used to return empty, he said, but added that the rise in polymer output has generated a large volume of export cargo.
"We saw a 3% growth in container ships volume handled at the port last year and the traffic is rising in tandem with the jump in petrochemicals output in the region," he said.
The greenfield capacity at Jebel Ali port, which is a key trans-shipment center in the Middle East, would also help meet any additional demand for consumer and industrial goods from Iran as western countries ease sanctions on the nation.
DP World is one of the world's largest port terminal operators. It operates more than 65 terminals worldwide and Jebel Ali port is its flagship facility. Southeast Asia to Jebel Ali and China to Jebel Ali are among the major routes for container shipping lines.
Al Muallem said additional container ships handling capacity will gradually be taken up by shipping lines, which are forming alliances to benefit from economies of scale and cater to the demand of Persian Gulf economies.
He said that over $36 billion worth of port development contracts and $30 billion worth of industrial, petrochemical and infrastructure projects are currently being implemented in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
"The basic thumb rule is that once 80 per cent of the existing capacity gets utilized, the port should start building new capacity," Al Muallem said.
Once the third terminal becomes operational, Jebel Ali will be able to simultaneously berth 10 mega container ships. Shipping lines have ordered a large number of such vessels to reduce costs and save time while carrying bigger volumes in direct calls between major ports.
"We want to be a mega-hub or centre-point for such large ships and then use feeders to supply cargoes to smaller ports in the region," Al Muallem said.
At present, Jebel Ali can berth six mega ships simultaneously.