Port Otago will become the first port in New Zealand to deepen its shipping channel for the next generation of container shipping as part of a $30 million upgrade over the next two years.
The infrastructural works program, ‘Next Generation Port Otago’ will allow larger ships to access Port Chalmers while bolstering the port’s services to exporters.
Geoff Plunket, Port Otago Chief Executive, said Next Generation was a forward looking program to upgrade the port’s efficiency and productivity for the next generation of its users.
“It highlights our resolve to remain at the forefront of shipping and port activity in New Zealand and as a major contributor to the region’s economic growth,” he said.
The capital works program includes:
- Deepening of the shipping channel to 14 meters by end-2016;
- Deepening the berths and sheet piling to support the wharf;
- Warehouse expansion at both Port Chalmers and Sawyers Bay;
- Actively investigating the purchase of a new tug and barge.
The planned infrastructural expansion would add an estimated 15 full time jobs to the port’s current workforce of 300. It also follows on from a 10 year program of capital investment including the recent purchase of a new 68-tonne bollard pull tug, a new pilot launch, two new container cranes and a number of four-high straddles.
Port Otago is already the deepest container port in the country at 13 meters (chart datum or low tide) and is unique in that it can operate at all stages of the tide.
With resource consent to deepen the shipping channel to a maximum of 15 meters for larger ships Port Otago will become the first to begin actual dredging. The first milestone will be to deepen to 14 meters and this will be done in two stages, with deepening of the existing channel to 13.5 meters by end 2015 and to 14 meters by December 2016.
In line with the channel deepening, container berths would also be deepened, requiring additional reinforcement of the wharf structures by constructing sheet piles along the berth line as an underwater retaining wall.
Following completion of the berth sheet piling work, the 135 meter extension of Container Wharf No 2 is expected to start in mid to late 2016.