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ICTSI plans Iraq expansion

ICTSI plans Iraq expansion
International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) is to open a three-berth greenfield terminal at Umm Qasr in Iraq in mid-2016, after successfully launching commercial operations at an existing berth there in November.

ICTSI signed a concession, located in the North Port of Umm Qasr, and known as Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT), with Iraqi port authority The General Company for Ports in Iraq (GCPI) in April 2014.

Phase One is a greenfield site, capable of handling a 600 m quay with 54 hectares of back-up land, where ICTSI will build new quays, Hans-Ole Madsen, UAE-based svp at ICTSI, told Seatrade Global on the sidelines of the Global Liner Shipping conference in Dubai this week.

It also took over an existing one-berth facility with back-up land. "We started operating on the existing quay while we commenced building the new site," he said.

BGT’s existing berth is known as Berth 20 in the North Port, and is equipped with two gantry cranes and one mobile crane.

“In January, we did in excess of 12,000 teu on Berth 20, so it's moving very well. By improving the services and infrastructure, we see that the Iraqi cargo is coming back to Iraq. Obviously a lot is still moving through Kuwait and Aqaba,” he said.

ITCSI is investing around $130m in phase one. Total build-out for the greenfield site will cost $220m, for a total ITCSI investment in Umm Qasr of $350m.

Madsen said BGT, located at the northernmost extreme of the Gulf, could not be a hub. "It's all gateway. There is no transhipment up there. Today everybody runs it via feeders from Jebel Ali.”

Good hinterland infrastructure has been a pleasant surprise. “The highway up to Baghdad is in decent condition, despite many years of war. It's 500km from Umm Qasr to Baghdad. The highway was built by the Germans in the 1980s. The road itself is pretty good.”

A rail line exists and there are trains running. “Obviously, a lot will have to be done on the rail. But it’s a perfect rail corridor, a nice distance of 500-600 km to Baghdad.”

Phillip Marsham, BGT ceo said: “We are attracting plenty of interest from container lines and have enjoyed a good pace of cargo build-up since we opened the doors after full takeover in November.”

After the Iraq War, Umm Qasr, Iraq’s only seaborne access, was relaunched through investment by CMA-CGM, while the UAE’s Gulftainer was the first operator to set up a dedicated terminal.

BGT is a subsidiary of ICTSI, an operator of common-user container terminals. ICTSI is the largest port operator in the Philippines, with a portfolio of 29 terminals in 21 countries across six continents.