Minister Opens Maasvlakte 2 (The Netherlands)

Maasvlakte 2

“Today we are clearing the way for international shipping and trade. That’s typical of the Netherlands. That’s how we became big. With Maasvlakte 2, the Netherlands is throwing the door wide open to the newest generation of container ships. And we offer space for the latest terminals. The port is growing 20% larger, and the container capacity has doubled. Thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be created.”

With these words, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, today opened Maasvlakte 2 to shipping. “Together we have succeeded in constructing this phase of Maasvlakte 2 according to schedule and well inside budget. The project has turned out approx. €150 million less expensive than estimated. This becomes evident now that the construction has been largely completed”, according to Hans Smits, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority. Today, a fleet of around 25 vessels, varying from classic three-masters to a modern container ship, will be the first to sail officially via the Yangtzekanaal to Maasvlakte 2.

Hans Smits: “From today, Maasvlakte 2 is an integral part of the port area. The area is now accessible by road, rail and water. The construction of the two container terminals of RWG and APMT is on schedule. They will be operational at the end of next year, but there will be other activity in the short term as well. In the second half of this year, the Port Authority will place poles in the inland lake of Maasvlakte 2 for ship-to-ship transfer. There are also advanced plans for developing an industrial park for the (bio-based) chemical industry on the site next to Lyondell. Together with partners, the Port Authority will construct the infrastructure so that new businesses can set to work quickly. We have also observed that there is increased interest in distribution activities due to the coming of the new container terminals.”

Maritime access

Considerable simulation research was carried out for the waterways on Maasvlakte 2. This helped determine the shape and width of the waterways and port basins that were constructed. The Yangtzekanaal is 600 metres wide so that two mega container ships can pass each other while a third is moored at the quay. The dominant wind direction in the Netherlands is southwest. The Amaliahaven has the same orientation, so moored vessels catch less wind there. And the shape of Maasvlakte 2 has reduced the cross current in the mouth of the Nieuwe Waterweg. Vessels with deep draught in particular now have less trouble with this.

On 1 September 2008, the then mayor Opstelten gave the go-ahead for the construction of Maasvlakte 2. Contractors Boskalis and Van Oord, united in PUMA, sprayed 240 million cubic metres of sand (160 times Rotterdam’s De Kuip soccer stadium filled to the brim), constructed a 3.5-km hard seawall with 7 million tonnes of stone and 20,000 concrete blocks from the old seawall, built several kilometres of quay wall and laid down roads and railway lines. The port now has 700 hectares more land for business sites. Another 300 hectares will be added to this in the second phase. Work is currently still underway to achieve the optimum connection of the infrastructure on Maasvlakte 2 to the existing port area.

A series of important milestones were achieved in 2012. The bathing beach was opened for use in May. Queen Beatrix closed the seawall in July, while the road and railway along the seawall were opened in October. The latter was necessary before work could start in November on opening the Yangtzekanaal through to Maasvlakte 2. This was required to provide access for vessels with equipment for the new container terminals of APMT and RWG.

€150 million cheaper

Now that Maasvlakte 2 has been opened, the actual costs are also clear. In 2006 it was estimated that an amount of €1.7 billion would be spent on the first phase of Maasvlakte 2. On top of that, as customary with this type of project, due to its complexity and size, a kind of ‘contingency sum’ was estimated: an extra amount of €200 million for large setbacks and deviations from the original plan, so-called scope expansions. This brought the budget to €1.9 billion. It now looks like the first phase cost €1.55 billion. The work ended up €150 million cheaper than estimated, and the ‘contingency sum’ of €200 million does not have to be touched.

Combination of reasons

There are various reasons why the construction thus far has gone so favourably and costs were kept under control, while quality was not sacrificed. To start with, the project was thoroughly prepared, so that during its execution scarcely any unexpected matters arose. It was partly due to this that there was also almost no delay as a result of legal proceedings. Appropriate forms of contract were sought with the various contractors, including agreements on enabling optimisation after the contract was concluded. One important example of an optimisation is the design of the hard seawall. The seawall which has now been built consists of a half-open block dam and a cobble beach. The original design was a solid dike. This allowed savings in construction and maintenance costs, without sacrificing safety. Another optimisation was the temporary cooling water discharge for the E.ON power station. A relatively expensive structure was replaced by a narrow canal to the Yangtzehaven.

A well thought-out risk distribution between client and contractors was also part of the contracts. For example, sand being washed away by storms was the risk of the contractor. Only loss of sand resulting from a storm with waves higher than 6.75 metres for more than 3 hours was the responsibility of the Port Authority. This kind of storm occurs once every 10 years on average. The weather helped here, as such a severe storm did not occur in the past few years.

Adhering to original scope

In addition, overexpenditure was avoided by continually sticking to the original scope of the project as much as possible. The largest extension of the scope during the course of the project was increasing the security level of the railway, so that the railway can be put to better use.

The calls for tender for infrastructure to connect Maasvlakte 2 to the existing port area started in 2010. In this period, the market situation was such that projects could be awarded more favourably than had been estimated in 2006. As all important milestones in the planning continued to be met, there was no domino effect in the planning, and the costs of supervising the construction project were also kept under control. The good cooperation between contractor consortium PUMA, other contractors and the Port Authority also contributed to this.

The setbacks for which the €200 million contingency sum had been reserved did not occur. There was no postponement or delay, for instance due to long legal proceedings, and the costs did not rise due to extremely high inflation or substantial changes to the size of the project: Maasvlakte 2 has been constructed almost exactly as conceived in 2006-2007.

The largest outstanding risk is formed by possible extra costs of maintenance of the seawall resulting from unforeseen changes to the current. For the first ten years, the Port Authority will bear these costs.

New activities

The Port Authority wants to establish an industry park for the (bio-based) chemical industry on the site near Lyondell Bayer. Together with local partners, the Port Authority is developing the infrastructure for the site such as jetties and mains services (gas, water, electricity). This plug-and-play concept offers businesses the advantage of being able to concentrate on their core activity: making products. The Port Authority has made agreements with local utility companies and discussions are underway with international businesses that may want to establish here.

The inland lake on Maasvlakte 2 will remain in the coming five to ten years. The 300 hectares of business sites that can still be created here will only come about once there is a demand for them. For the time being, the 700 hectares now created are sufficient for the Port Authority. In the meantime, the Port Authority is placing poles for ship-to-ship transfer. This market is growing strongly, especially for the liquid bulk sector (mainly oil coming from Russia which is shipped to Asia via the port of Rotterdam) and dry bulk (grains in particular). The poles can also be used for offshore activities. The Port Authority is investing approximately €10 million in these poles where vessels can moor. They will be ready for use next year.

The construction of the container terminals of APM Terminals and Rotterdam World Gateway is on schedule. Both terminals will be operational at the end of next year. The coming of the terminals is generating more interest from companies that want to establish themselves in the Maasvlakte distribution park. This has not yet resulted in actual site issue.


Source: portofrotterdam, May 22, 2013