UAE: CICT Importance Highlighted in Dubai

CICT Importance Highlighted in Dubai

Colombo International Container Terminals Ltd. General Manager Tissa Wickramasinghe was invited to be a guest speaker at the third annual Global Liner Shipping Conference which was held in Dubai on 25 and 26 February 2013.

Being the only speaker from Sri Lanka, the subject allocated to him was the latest port development in Colombo and the topical subjects of assessing Colombo’s position as a competitor to Salalah and Cochin.

Containerization International, which is the Box-Benchmark, held this annual Global Liner Shipping Middle East and Indian Sub-continent conference, at the Jumeirah Mina A’Salam Hotel in Dubai. The Conference was organised by Informa Maritime Events of the United Kingdom in association with Lloyds List. The Lead Sponsor of the event was DP World which is the third largest Container Terminal Operator in the world.

Senior Vice President and Managing Director DP World UAE region delivered the opening address at the Conference and the keynote address was by the Managing Director of Maersk Line for the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Iran.

Maersk Line being the largest container carrier in the world gave an overview on how carriers were preparing for recovery and growth. The conference also had speakers covering all aspects of the global shipping and logistics industry including the port developments vis-à-vis infrastructure and supply chain developments.

The speakers addressed topics ranging from the impact of port expansion and heightened port competition on liner trade, including an assessment of the opportunities and the potential for transshipment in the Middle-East.

The special country focus session titled ‘India and the Subcontinent’ was covered by the Director of international maritime consultants Drewry Maritime. Sri Lanka’s position as the ‘Maritime Hub of Asia’ which was the final spotlight session was covered by Tissa Wickramasinghe of Colombo International Container Terminals Ltd. (CICT), the operator of the first deep water terminal in the Colombo South Harbour that will go into operation in July this year.

The two key issues that Tissa brought into focus in his presentation were assessing Colombo as a competitor for Salalah and Cochin, and the other being how the Port of Colombo can be used to overcome congestion issues at Indian ports.

Both issues generated much interest from the audience culminating in a very productive interaction with the major feeder operators, who sensed the potential for further capacity enhancements by way of using larger feeder ships for the Colombo hub. The presentation highlighted the fact that Colombo would be the only port within the Indian sub-continent with 18m water depth alongside the berth and 70m outreach ship to shore cranes. The availability of this combined infrastructure of deepwater and longer outreach cranes at the CICT terminal would enable the Port of Colombo to be placed in the limited list of global ports that could handle the largest container ships afloat today. This facility would also cater to the 18,000 TEU capacity ships that are to be deployed effective from the second quarter of this year.

Presently, there is no other port in the Indian Sub-Continent that could cater to such capacity ships, thus giving Colombo a leading edge over any other port in the region. This is a huge boost to the port of Colombo as the current water basin depth is limited to 15m. This restricts the ability for these Ultra-Large-Container-Carriers (ULCC) ships to enter port and operate effectively, due to the limitations on the cranes that are deployed at the current facilities.

The depth of water at the alongside berths of CICT facility, and the massive cranes that are being installed will be the one single catalyst in attracting ULCCs to the Port of Colombo. This factor will be further consolidated due to CICT being totally managed and operated by China Merchant Holding International (CMHI), which is the largest public port operator in China with a throughput of 60 million TEUS in 2012.

With CMHI clearly demonstrating its intention to be a global terminal operator and enlarge its global footprint, it is expected that there will significant synergies that would be brought to Colombo as a transshipment hub. This new China factor is expected to develop relay cargo volumes over Colombo when CICT is in full operation. This was welcome news to the conference attendees who were given an overview of the CMHI portfolio of ports and its expanding network. His presentation highlighted the significant economies of scale that would yield from these ULCC ships being able to call at the Port of Colombo and the benefits that would accrue to the shippers in India and Sri Lanka. A key focus was also, the lower fuel consumption and the minimal impact on the environment through controlled emissions from these larger carriers.

It was emphasised that the CICT marketing plan would focus on a niche market to service the ULCC ships. Given the projected volume growth over the medium to long term, the indications are that the Shipping Lines operating the ULCC’s will be keen to lock in the berthing guarantees in Colombo.


Source: slpa, March 15, 2013