The global economic outlook is uncertain and this uncertainty is leading to depressed investment worldwide, particularly in energy and mining activity. The international ports and terminals sector forms an important part of the infrastructure supporting these activities, HR Wallingford said in its latest study.
As the sector is exposed to restraints on investment, the emphasis is on reducing in operating cost.
Managing a port or terminal’s operability is critical to reducing the unit costs of running a port. Many of the factors involved relate to the marine environment, and a good understanding of these factors can be used to reduce a port’s operating costs.
Reducing the costs of maintenance dredging
Dredging to maintain a port or terminal’s navigation often presents opportunities to reduce costs.
“When examining dredging practices, we generally look at both the nature of the siltation problem, and the dredging methods employed. Port operators face the dilemma of programing their dredging procurement to maintain the required depth of navigation, but not to the extent that the channel is over-dredged and the dredging problem increased,” HR Wallingford said.
Channel sedimentation is affected by factors such as geomorphology and tides but also seasonal factors, and can be minimized through careful channel design.
As well as understanding the nature of port sedimentation, it is also important to establish that the most cost-effective dredging methods being employed.
Minimizing the need for new investment
There are also cases where, with careful examination, it may be possible to avoid or reduce investment in dredging and still permit larger vessel to access a port or terminal.
This could be through close examination of vessel arrival and departure navigation, using simulation tools.
Alternatively, it may be possible to demonstrate that a layer of fluid mud would not in fact impede safe access to a terminal.