posted on 09/08/2012: 790 views
The new Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi will open in the nick of time next month as the capital's flagship Mina Zayed terminal is expected to reach full capacity before the end of the year.
All shipments handled at Mina Zayed will be gradually transferred to Port Khalifa over the next six months as Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) expects to handle a record number of containers this year.
"We believe we will hit 800,000 this year," said Tony Douglas, the chief executive.
"So far we had 350,00 at the half [year] and we [will] have 450,000 in the second half, which is more than do-able.
"We think we will hit capacity at Mina Zayed this year."
The opening of Port Khalifa in Taweelah on September 1 will mark the end of five years of reclaiming land, dredging and building to produce one of the most advanced port terminals in the region.
"The business already exists," Mr Douglas said.
"It's not like you have to get out there tomorrow and drum it all up. We have the existing [Mina] Zayed business and we have a transfer schedule, liner by liner, customer by customer."
From September, all security will be in place, as well as the customs and border control. ADPC will mark the opening with a ceremony but Mr Douglas declined to disclose details.
Mina Zayed has grown at a rapid pace over the past few years, handling 767,000 containers last year, up 47 per cent from 2010. About 95 per cent of the cargo in containers brought into Abu Dhabi through Mina Zayed is estimated to remain in the emirate.
Like Mina Zayed, Port Khalifa will initially also be a "destination port", with most of the containers coming into the emirate staying there.
But the potential capacity at Port Khalifa is huge and Mr Douglas hopes that as the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) develops around the port, it will have capacity for 15 million containers by 2030.
Currently, Terminal 1 at the port can handle 2.5 million containers, and ADPC has the ability to add a further 2.5 million to capacity at a second terminal at little extra cost.
"We are trending on busting the 2.5 million by 2016 or 2017, so we only then have to put new crane rails in. You don't have to reclaim another island because we've already done it," said Mr Douglas.
If the port eventually is extended to handle 15 million containers, it will become one of the world's biggest alongside those in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Khalifa Port is just one element for Kizad, the overall vision of which is to create a 417 square kilometre industrial and manufacturing hub that equates to two-thirds the size of the island of Singapore. Emirates Aluminium is currently ADPC's anchor tenant at Kizad.
The goal for the industrial hub is to represent 15 per cent of the non-oil GDP of Abu Dhabi by 2030.
"If everything turns out to be the vision in precise detail, you have capacity of 15 million containers, over 30 million tonnes of general cargo and an industrial zone with the scale of 417 sq kilometres," said Mr Douglas.
"That's what you can flex up to but the market is the market. GDP is GDP and consumption is consumption. They are the things that will determine how much you take advantage of."
The container terminal at Mina Zayed will be converted into a cruise liner terminal to help to build the cruise industry, which is another major pillar of Abu Dhabi's Economic Vision 2030.
"Mina Zayed is a fantastic asset," said Mr Douglas. "The area that is currently the container facility, the minute we vacate it, we will develop it for the cruise industry."
The UAE cruise industry hit a setback this year when Italy's MSC Cruises, the first cruise company to use Abu Dhabi as a home port, pulled out less than a year after it started sailing from the capital. – The National
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