Development will enable Le Havre to handle 8,000 teu vessels
WONG JOON SAN
Tenders will be called soon for construction of facilities at Le Havre under its Port 2000 project, which will upgrade its capacity to vessels of 8,000 teu (20 ft equivalent units), a port official says.
'This project plans the construction of a set of port facilities intended for the handling of the largest container ships under conditions allowing the major containerised shipping lines to become regular customers of the port of Le Havre,' its commercial director, Pierre-Yves Collardey, said in Hong Kong.
Mr Collardey is with a French delegation wooing Asian shipping lines to call at Le Havre.
The port already could accommodate the largest container ships without any draught limitation or tidal or channel restrictions at competitive terminal handling tariffs, he said.
The Port 2000 project would improve the transfer of goods between ships and increase the inland connections of Le Havre, including rail, road and river links.
The project also would improve the position of France in European logistics, he said.
Because the present port of Le Havre was not suitable to meet traffic growth for more than a few years, Port 2000 would create four berths south of the present facilities and two more as an extension of the existing Osaka terminal under its first-phase development.
The first two of four planned southern berths were scheduled for completion in early 2003.
The project also would include provision of an access channel, a protection breakwater and the organisation of close inland rail, road and river access ways.
When the traffic growth demand justified it, a second-phase development of two berths would be carried out.
The cost of the project is estimated at 3.1 billion francs (about HK$3.9 billion).
'The creation of berths outside the physical boundaries of the present port is a priority insofar as it leads both to higher productivity of the port tool and to a higher quality of service while reducing the traffic through the present main nautical access way,' a port statement said.
Last year, container throughput handled between the port of Le Havre and Hong Kong was 101,800 teu; with Shanghai the figure was 10,100 teu; and with other Chinese ports 118,300 teu.
Commercial exchanges between Le Havre and the mainland amounted to 1.07 million tonnes of cargo last year, an 11.3 per cent rise compared with the tonnage in 1997.
Of that figure, 763,000 tonnes were through trade with Hong Kong and 316,000 tonnes were through trade with other Chinese ports.
Trade between Le Havre, Hong Kong and Chinese ports has been on the rise over the past six years, from 593,000 tonnes in 1993 to more than one million tonnes last year.
Apart from bulk shipments, Le Havre handled 6,000 tonnes of oil by-products from Dalian and 135,000 tonnes of coal from Qingdao. It exported 4,000 tonnes of cereals to Shanghai.
The 1.3 million teu per year handled at Le Havre port makes up about 60 per cent of the containerised trade of French ports.