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Incheon port expanding to accommodate bigger boxships

Incheon port expanding to accommodate bigger boxships
South Korea's Incheon port is making preparations to accommodate containerships of up to 10,000 teu next year following the completion of a first phase port expansion plan, according to Incheon Port Authority (IPA).

Under the phase 1-1 development scheduled for completion by the end of 2014, Incheon port, located on the central west coast of South Korea, will see the addition of two terminals with a total of six container berths and 1.6km of quay length to accommodate 10,000 teu containerships, expanding from its current limits on catering to only 4,000 teu container vessels.

The phase 1-1 project will add Terminal A and Terminal B, operated by Hanjin and Sun Kwang respectively, each with an annual throughput capacity of 1.2m teu to bolster the port's yearly container handling capacity.

Future development of phases 1-2, 2, and 3 would equipped Incheon port with a total of 25 new container berths and four new general cargo berths by 2030.

After the opening of phase 1-1, IPA will work towards the aim of receiving 15,000 teu boxships by deepening the port's draught to at least 16 metres.

“The design and infrastructure allow Incheon port to accommodate vessels up to 15,000 teu, but we will need a little more time to work on the water depth,” Kim Choon-sun, ceo of IPA, told Seatrade Global.

The container shipping market is witnessing a trend of larger vessel sizes as carriers seek competitive advantage through economies of scale and higher energy efficiency. Currently, the world's largest commercially operated containerships are Maersk Line's 18,000 teu Triple-E vessels, plying the main Asia-Europe trade lane.

On container throughput, Incheon port is projected to handle 2.13m teu this year, up from 1.98m teu recorded in 2012. By 2015, throughput is forecast to hit 2.84m teu before rising further to 4.27m teu by 2020, IPA projected. Container volumes moved at the port have been growing at an average of 8.1% annually over the past five years, the port authority pointed out.

Incheon port is currently the third busiest container port in South Korea, after Busan and Yeosu/Gwangyang ports.

General cargo volumes are predicted to reach 150m tonnes this year before increasing to 156m tonnes in 2015 and 184m tonnes in 2020.

“We are the gateway to Seoul Metropolitan area with a massive hinterland area. The port is also strategically located for trading with China as well as intra-Asia,” Kim said.

Meanwhile, IPA and Singapore's PSA International (PSA) have signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday for a strategic long term cooperation. The two organisations have agreed to share information and ideas in the areas of port operations, technology and best practices, and collaborate in the strategic development of Incheon port.