New Zealand: Port of Tauranga Pushes for Dredging Projects

Ports of Tauranga, measured by the Australian Productivity Commission as the most efficient port in Australasia, was the “obvious choice” to lead New Zealand ports in the investment required to accommodate big container ships that would visit this country in the near future, chief executive Mark Cairns said at yesterday’s annual meeting.

The Shippers Council, whose membership represents more than half of New Zealand’s exporters, had also recommended that Tauranga become the first port in the North Island to become capable of handling 7000-container ships.

“Larger vessels are already starting to arrive,” he said.

“The largest container vessel in New Zealand trade started regular calls at Tauranga in April. The OOCL New Zealand can carry up to 4578 [containers] – until now the average vessel size has been less than 3000 [containers].

“Other shipping lines will introduce larger ships in the coming year and we expect further consolidation on hub ports, with greater reliance on rail and coastal shipping.”

Mr Cairns said the port’s real strength in accommodating bigger ships was being able to move large volumes on and off wharves.

The company’s plans for dredging to accommodate bigger ships were well advanced, with the Environment Court scheduled early next year to hear three appeals by iwi against recommended consent by independent commissioners earlier this year.

Capacity at the Sulphur Pt cold storage facility was being increased by 70 per cent and earnings from associated companies were up 62 per cent following excellent performances by Northport and C3, Mr Cairns said.

Integration of the recent acquired Tapper Transport in Auckland was also proceeding smoothly.

Shareholders were also told that the port company’s first quarter net profit was up 10 per cent on the same time last year, with the company heading for full-year earnings of between $51 million and $53m.

Mr Cairns said trade was also up 10 per cent and container volumes up 25 per cent on the previous year’s period.

The full-year earnings guidance was within analyst forecasts, he said.

By Andrea Fox (stuff)

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Source: stuff, October 27, 2010;

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