Papua New Guinea direct link to be launched
Swire Shipping will launch the first direct service between Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong and other North Asia ports next week in a move that is partly fuelled by the boom in liquefied natural gas development.
Jeremy Sutton, the firm's line manager, said the service, which will also serve Shanghai and Pusan in South Korea, will have two ship calls a month in Hong Kong.
It will link the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby, Lae, Rabaul and Honiara in the Solomon Islands.
He said Swire Shipping will inaugurate the service with New Pacific Line, which will contribute the three 23,000 deadweight tonne vessels that will operate the route.
Sutton said the exact details of the co-operation are confidential, but the tie-up also gave New Pacific Line access to Swire Shipping's services in Southeast Asia.
Sutton said the three multi-purpose ships, which will be capable of transporting containerised, bulk and small project-type freight, will carry 'a mixed bag of cargoes'. Aside from consumer goods, he said this will include construction equipment, steel pipe and engineering plant to help support LNG and other projects in Papua New Guinea.
This included the US$15 billion LNG project being developed by ExxonMobil, which is set to come on-stream in early 2014.
Sutton said the ExxonMobil project is 'under way and running at full swing, hitting its stride now' in terms of construction. He thought the construction-related LNG boom would continue into 2012 'creating more and more demand' for shipping related services this year.
He said that while the development of LNG facilities has been the focus of interest 'there are a number of other projects' under way.
Papua New Guinea, slightly larger than California at around 463,000 square kilometres, has seen buoyant conditions in the past few several years on the back of healthy demand for minerals such as copper and gold.
Sutton said its economy 'was very strong in terms of growth last year and this year' and had 'shown quite strong organic growth' even without the LNG projects.
He believes this expansion will continue over the next few years.
The Asian Development Bank said the country's GDP grew by 6.7 per cent in 2008 and 4.5 per cent in 2009, partly supported by reasonably strong mineral and oil prices.
But the country continued to be beset by relatively poor infrastructure with congested ports that have weight and other operating restrictions and inadequate road networks.
The number of 23,000 tonne vessels that will operate the new route linking Hong Kong with Papua New Guinea is: 3