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Ports Of Auckland Prepares For Bigger Container Ships

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, May 27 NZPA - Ports of Auckland Ltd is on "stand-by" to handle the next generation of large container ships likely to come to New Zealand.

The port said today it has resource consents for berth deepening and wharf works at its Fergusson container terminal for larger ships.

The next generation of container ships to service New Zealand is expected to be able to carry between 5000 and 7000 TEU, or twenty foot equivalent containers, up from 4100 TEU now.

"One effect of the global recession may be that, as shipping lines consolidate their operations, larger vessels arrive in New Zealand sooner than anticipated," said managing director Jens Madsen.

"We have obtained the resource consent now so that we can move quickly to construct the berth when needed," he said.

The consented works will increase the berth depth at the Fergusson container terminal to 15.5m chart datum, the depth measurement at lowest astronomical tide.

Plans also include an extension to the wharf and construction of a small part of a planned new northern berth.

Work would begin as soon as the shipping industry required it and would take between 24 and 30 months to complete.

Ports of Auckland did not say how the work would be funded.

The port earlier disputed a claim by Port of Tauranga that no port could accommodate the larger ships and few could afford to invest in facilities for them.

Ports of Auckland's shipping channel was deepened to 12.5m in 2007, which the port said was deep enough to accommodate these larger vessels within tidal windows.

The port can guarantee a 13.9m draft twice a day. Because the height of the tide varies every day some days will offer a longer period than others. On spring tides the port can take a 14.25m draft.

Ports of Auckland said three of its existing container cranes, the largest in the country, are capable of servicing the vessels.

"The three newest cranes have a 50m outreach which, taking into account the additional fendering required for larger vessels, gives us the ability to service ships 18 containers wide," said Mr Madsen.

Mr Madsen said Ports of Auckland was in the best position of any New Zealand port to cater for the new generation of container ships.

"We are effectively on stand-by," he said.

Ports of Auckland has eight container cranes, three more than any other port in New Zealand.

The arrival of larger ships is seen as a potential catalyst for a rationalisation of the port industry as the large ships are expected to call at only one or two ports, industry observers say.

Shipping line Maersk currently brings 4100 container ships to New Zealand and its major customers include Fonterra.

A s many as 500 container vessels, with an average capacity of 3000 TEU, constituting more than 10 percent of the total world fleet, are believed to be laid up because of the slowing global economy.

Ports of Auckland is 100 percent owned by Auckland Regional Holdings, the commercial arm of Auckland Regional Council.

The future ownership of Ports of Auckland has not been spelt out in the Super City debate.

NZPA

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