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Iraq terminal welcomes new post-panamax cranes

Iraq terminal welcomes new post-panamax cranes
Basra Gate Terminal (BGT) has taken delivery of two new post-panamax cranes and three RTGs as the first phase of the Iraq port’s $130m greenfield project moves closer to full operation.

The Hanjin Pioneer tied up to the new Berth 27 at the International Container Terminal Services Inc- (ICTSI) operated North Port in Umm Qasr with theTerex cranes late Thursday following a 7000nm voyage from Xiamen, China.

Commissioning of the ship to shore cranes and RTGs will take approximately four weeks after which BGT will have two containerised berths together with new general and project cargo operations at nearby Berth 19.

“BGT is well positioned to take Umm Qasr Port to new levels in the business development in Iraq…this is a proud day for BGT and Iraq,” said ceo Phillip Marsham.

“Our investment in the cutting edge of shipping technology and infrastructure will allow us to offer our customers the most efficient route and easy access to Iraqi market. We are hoping to give customers a completely new experience of doing business.”

Philippines niche port operator ICTSI signed a 26-year concession with the General Company for Ports of Iraq in 2014 to develop and operate three new berths under the BGT moniker, in addition to a 10-year agreement to redevelop the existing Berth 20.

Each stage of the greenfield expansion, the first public-private port sector partnership in Iraq, will add 300,000 teu capacity, 200,000sq mtr of container storage and two gantry cranes.  

Average quarterly volume at BGT has grown from 15,000 teu in Q3 2014, prior to the ICTSI takeover, to 78,000 teu in Q1 this year. Productivity has soared from 16 to just shy of 50 bmph in the same period while the average truck cycle time has decreased from five hours in 2014 to 47 minutes today. Thursday arrival will undoubtedly add to those vastly improved throughput statistics.

Umm Qasr port handles 80% of the Iraq’s imports including grain for a huge public food ration program. With a hinterland that extends to the capital city of Baghdad, Umm Qasr is critical in combating the country’s well-documented geopolitical challenges.

“Despite the global challenges in shipping in general, combined with the specific conditions in Iraq, we feel the commercial opportunities are very attractive as the country rebuilds its infrastructure and continues to develop,” Marsham said.

“Market indicators are showing a general growth of over 15% in Umm Qasr in the container sector in 2016 and as such there is a high confidence for further development over the coming years.”

Watch the official video of the arrival of the STS cranes and RTGs here.