"We expect construction to begin within one year, pending completion of the internal planning process," Sanga Sanguansaksri, marketing manager, Hutchison Laemchabang Terminal Ltd., told Seatrade Global in an interview recently.
Three of the four terminals at the main gateway for Thailand's imports and exports are operational today and located 130km from Bangkok.
Hutchison is the largest operator at the port, with operations at Terminal A at sections A2 and A3, Terminal C at C1 and C2 and also has the concession to develop and operate Terminal D. It was granted six concessions at Laem Chabang by PAT in 2004.
Last year, Sanguansaksri said throughput at Hutchison terminals in the port was 2m teu, for capacity utilisation of 77%. Its Terminal C zones serve bigger ships with a draught of 16m.
Officials representing the landlord, Laem Chabang Port, are circumspect on future development.
"Terminals D1, D2 and D3 are not yet operational. But we expect in the next 10 years that we may have excess demand," Tienchai Makthiengtrong, director, planning division, Laem Chabang Port, the port landlord, said, adding that the 1.8 km terminal would be developed in 300 m increments.
Makthiengtrong said port throughput hit 6.4m teu in 2014, on capacity of 9.1m teu. He said capacity would later reach 10.8m teu with the addition of Terminal D.
Intensity of throughput at the port is uneven, with Terminals A and B becoming congested, since lines of business have been established for longer and tariffs are likely to be more favourable for lines.
With only 300m of quayside and 400,000 teu capacity, Terminal B4, run by TIPS, saw throughput of 1m teu in 2014. Operations manager, Teerapol Shinno, told Seatrade this could grow to 1.1m boxes this year. TIPS is a jv of the local Ngow Hock Group, NYK and MOL, and its yard opened in 1992.
Laem Chabang is an import/export gateway and less than 1% of port volumes are transhipment.
The World Shipping Council ranked Laem Chabang the world’s No.23 container port, with a throughput of 6.04m teu, in 2013.