Ports in the spotlight
It is (nearly always) only the big players who make the headlines – this is (not only) the case in journalism. But what, for instance, makes a port important and globally interesting? Apart from its location, also a network of relationships and smaller neighbours.
The biggest container ports continue to be in Asia. After Shanghai, the unmatched number one with some 38 million teu in container handling operations per year, follows Singapore with 32 million teu, then come five other Chinese and one Korean port. The number nine is Dubai/Jebel Ali and number eleven is occupied by Port Klang in Malaysia, followed by Rotterdam, the biggest port in Europe (source: Globaltimes). Seven of the ten biggest ports in the world are located in China.
Singapore’s size stems not least from the fact that China concluded a free trade agreement in 2010 with Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The port of the city state thereby grew even further and now handles 20% of global container volumes.
Support from small ports
In addition, smaller handling facilities in the proximity, for instance Jakarta or Ho Chi Minh City, also help. Both were developed further in recent years and can now handle larger vessels. Many shipping companies are increasingly shipping their goods to and from regional ports in southeast Asia in the catchment area of Singapore. This helps to tackle competitors such as Port Klang. However, the latter also relies on the support of smaller ports.
Kuantan aims to position itself
One of such ports is that of Kuantan, which sits on the peninsular of Malaysia and is located approximately 300 kilometres from Port Klang. It is owned by the stock exchange-listed IJM Corporation Berhad. Wave breakers protect it from the northeast monsoon, allowing it to remain open all year round. It is scheduled to be upgraded and expanded in collaboration with the government and will have the capacity to handle bulk carriers with a payload of up to 200,000 tdw or container vessels with a capacity of up to 18,000 teu.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, the first phase of the construction work will be completed. The start to the next stage, which specifies a water depth of initially 16 metres and a berth spanning 600 metres in length as well as a surface area of 25 hectares for dry bulk goods, is planned for 2017. Together with a large industrial park, the port should become a key pillar for the Malaysian state.
New port in Qatar
Not only the geographical location or economic circumstances can result in the construction of a new port. In the case of Qatar, it is political considerations. According to a report from the news agency Reuters, a new port costing USD 7.4 billion should overcome the obstacles of the embargo that several Arab states have imposed on the oil-rich emirate of Qatar. The new Hamad transhipment facility spanning 26 sqkm, which is located 40 kilometres south of Doha and de-signed for an annual capacity of 7.5 million containers, was officially opened on 5 September. However, numerous construction materials, etc. have already been handled for the 2022 football world cup project. According to an official announcement from Qatar, the sanctions can be circumvented by importing the goods directly from countries such as China and Oman, which are then handled in Hamad instead of the larger hub in Dubai.
In addition to an expansion of the sea routes to India, Oman, Turkey and Pakistan, the production of liquefied natural gas will also be increased by 30% for economic (independence) reasons.