Dalian Port (PDA), operator of the mainland's largest crude oil terminal, is planning to double its container capacity by 2015, by expanding to the north bank of the city's Dayaowan bay, according to company chairman Sun Hong. A day after the announcement of a better than expected 50.5 jump in net profit, Mr Sun said the firm would build 18 container berths in three phases on the undeveloped north bank, inreasing the port's capacity to 20 million 20-foot equivalent units (teu) within the next eight years. Modern Terminals Ltd (MTL), controlled by Wharf (Holdings), last month signed a memorandum of understanding to take a stake in the second phase, plans for which have been submitted for approval to the National Development and Reform Commission, Mr Sun said. He expected that phase to come on stream not later than 2015, when the entire project is due to be completed. 'MTL may also be involved in the first phase,' he said. But MTL sources said yesterday a feasibility study on the first two phases, which comprise eight berths, was being jointly conducted by the two companies. The port operates only on the south bank of the bay, but congestion is increasing. Mr Sun said two of the five berths being built with international partners on the south side would come on stream next year, boosting the number of berths to 19. 'It is reasonable for the port to develop new berths since the utilisation rate has now reached 82 per cent,' a European securities analyst said. In the first three months of the year, container throughput at Dalian - the mainland's eighth-largest container port - increased 18.3 per cent to 780,000 teu. That compares with 21 per cent growth for all of last year, when it handled 3.15 million teu. Sales from container traffic last year rose 20 per cent to 690.5 million yuan, or 45 per cent of revenue. Mr Sun also said the port was going to form a joint venture with PetroChina in the oil terminal business. However, he would not provide details pending central government approval. In its first annual results announcement since its HK$2.16 billion initial public offering in April last year, Dalian Port said net profit rose to 631.56 million yuan - including 109 million yuan in interest income on proceeds from the share sale - from 419.65 million yuan a year earlier. Excluding interest earnings, profit grew 24 per cent last year. The firm's shares closed 2.7 per cent up at HK$4.52 after the results.