Expansion to containers; new multi-functional berths by 2001

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 January, 1999, 12:00am

Hong Kong-based China Infrastructure Group (CIG) is optimistic about Zhapu port, on the northern shore of Hangzhou Bay, as a future feeder and transshipment port.

CIG executive chairman Edward Chow Kwong-fai said the port, whose two existing berths were handling 1.1 million tonnes of general and bulk cargo per year, would be expanded to handle containers.

'When the two new multi-functional berths are completed in two years, they will have a design capacity of 250,000 teu [20-ft equivalent units],' he said.

General and bulk cargo throughput would fall to 600,000 tonnes yearly.

The land fronting the first-phase berth is clustered with oil-storage areas, and CIG plans to lease land nearby to oil companies for depots and move general and bulk cargo storage to an adjacent area nearer the second-phase berths.

Although second-phase construction began in March 1996, reclamation is only half complete. The basic sea-wall layer is ready.

Mr Chow said container handling at Zhapu would begin as a mid-stream operation, for which tenders have been called among Hong Kong mid-stream operators.

Zhapu is to play a complementary role to Shanghai port, which handles about three million teu a year.

Besides container facilities, Zhapu will have a berth to handle coal from Qinghuangdao - a northeastern Chinese port.

The proposed 196-metre berth will have a design capacity of 20,000 tonnes.

Mr Chow said Hangzhou and Jiaxing would be targeted as catchment areas for Zhapu port.

Consultant Babtie BMT Harris & Sutherland today would be commissioned to carry out a cargo study, which would begin this month. The first stage would take four to six weeks.

Mr Chow said Zhapu, which will be able to handle 25,000 tonne vessels, hoped to attract cargo from neighbouring areas by offering rates competitive with those at Shanghai port.

CIG officials had started talks with Ningbo port and also Kobe port authority in Japan to interest them in using its facilities.

'If we get sufficient cargo, we can run a direct shipping service to Kobe,' he said.

CIG also expects to get cargo from Wuhan if it succeeds in negotiating with the Wuhan municipal government for rights to invest in Wuhan port.

Mr Chow said International Finance Corp (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, would complete a study on the viability and profitability of the Zhapu port project this month, which might lead to a commitment by IFC.

CIG was helping the IFC officials to evaluate the project through on-site visits.

'They are studying the cargo flows, technical and existing details,' he said.

Mr Chow said CIG was preparing to join the first batch of listings on the Hong Kong stock exchange's second board, the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM).

GEM is being modelled on the Nasdaq exchange in the United States.