Khalifa Port expects to double the number of containers handled next year with the help of China’s Cosco Shipping Ports, which inaugurated a $430 million terminal and container freight station at the Abu Dhabi facility on Monday, officials said.
CSP, the Hong Kong-listed unit of the world’s No. 3 container shipping line China Cosco Shipping Corporation, has a 35-year concession agreement to run the new terminal, its first overseas greenfield unit.
Khalifa Port handled 1.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units – a measure of container volume - last year and this figure is forecast to reach 1.6 million TEU this year and more than 3 million TEU next year, said Captain Mohamed Al Shamisi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Ports, which operates Khalifa Port.
“We are operating at more than 90 per cent capacity,” said Mr Al Shamisi. “Bringing Cosco will give us more capacity, and more breathing space.”
The new terminal is part of ambitious plans for Khalifa Port, which replaced Abu Dhabi’s 1960s-built Port Zayed as the emirate’s main container port in 2012. Khalifa Port currently has a capacity of 5 million TEU with the CSP terminal and could expand the facility’s total capacity to 9.1 million TEU over the next five years.
The CSP terminal has a capacity of 2.5 million TEU and CSP could spend another $200m to add an additional 1 million TEU in the next three to five years, said Mr Zhang Wei, vice-chairman and managing director of CSP.
With the help of CSP, Khalifa Port wants to be a hub for the entire Arabian Gulf region rather than just a gateway to the UAE. With CSP's entry, freight costs will be reduced as mother ships call directly at the port and feeder vessels from Khalifa head to other ports in the region.
“Because we are considering Khalifa Port as a hub port, all of these vessels will call on Khalifa port directly rather than transiting through other ports, and that means direct connectivity, quicker time and lower freight cost,” said Mr Al Shamisi.
The new terminal will also allow Khalifa Port to receive very large vessels, including a 20,000 TEU ship expected to dock at the facility next year.
“We are going to introduce a 20,000 TEU ship, which is the biggest container ship right now in the world, into Gulf services,” said Mr Zhang. “It will be the first of its kind calling on Arabian Gulf ports and that will definitely reduce the logistics costs for customers around the Gulf.”
Abu Dhabi Ports, which also operates the adjacent Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, expects more companies to flock to the free zone with CSP’s arrival.
“Khalifa Port and the adjacent investment in Cosco terminal and container freight station opened the door for more industries to reside in Kizad and the free zone because it gives proper connectivity and services not only to China but to the world,” said Mr Al Shamisi.