Hutchison Whampoa

2013 debut for Hutch Sydney port

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am


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Hutchison Port Holdings is on course to start operating the first berths at its Port Botany container terminal in Sydney in early 2013.

That prospect opened after Sydney Ports Corporation yesterday handed over the site of the A$1 billion (HK$8.57 billion) Port Botany expansion project to the Hong Kong-headquartered port operator to allow the installation, testing and commissioning of cranes and associated equipment and facilities.

Hutchison through its local subsidiary Sydney International Container Terminals, will operate Port Botany's third container terminal under a 30-year lease.

The facility will be Hutchison's first container terminal in Australia, although Hutchison also has a deal to operate two berths in Brisbane which are expected to become operational in 2012 and 2014.

Hutchison Port Holdings was appointed by the New South Wales government to operate Port Botany's third terminal in December 2009 when construction of the port extension, which started in July 2008, was well under way. The Port Botany terminal was Hutchison's 50th global container terminal when the agreement was inked.

The third terminal will have five berths with a total quay length of 1,850 metres and a 63 hectare terminal yard.

But under its lease agreement, Hutchison has been given the right to operate four of these berths that will have a total length of 1,300 metres and 46 hectares of container storage. The state government has not explained what will happen to the fifth berth.

A Hutchison spokesman declined to say how much the company would spend on equipping the terminal.

There are no details on how many cranes Hutchison plans to install to load and unload containers between ships to and the quay, although typically about two cranes per berth will be required. These ship-to-shore cranes can cost up to US$10 million.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission carried out an informal review of the Hutchison deal within weeks of the December 2009 agreement being announced but decided not to oppose the pact, pointing out Hutchison's entry at Port Botany would increase competition. But the Maritime Union of Australia has been critical of the introduction of a third operator arguing that, rather than competition lowering charges and increasing productivity, there may not be enough business to sustain three terminal operators.

Speaking at the site handover ceremony yesterday, New South Wales ports minister Duncan Gay said: 'The A$1 billion Port Botany container terminal expansion will double the handling capacity at the current port to meet the projected long-term trade growth for Sydney and New South Wales.

'It is one of the most extensive and innovative port infrastructure projects to be undertaken in Australia in the last 30 years.'

Gay anticipated the third container terminal would create 9,000 new jobs and boost the state's economy by A$16 billion over the next 20 years.

Port corporation figures show Port Botany handled 1 million teu (20-foot equivalent units) last year.