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Hapag-Lloyd takes lead on plans for Egyptian container terminal

Image: Hapag-Lloyd An Artist's Impression of Damietta Continer Terminal 2 set to open in 2024
A new consortium is to build a second container terminal at the port of Damietta on Egypt’s north-east coast, which is scheduled to come into operation in 2024.

A Hapag-Lloyd statement on Tuesday said Eurogate and Contship Italia would be its joint venture partners in the scheme. Hapag-Lloyd Damietta GmbH will take a 39% stake, Eurogate Damietta GmbH 29.5%,  and Contship Damietta Srl 29.5%. Two minority local shareholders will each take 1%.

Located only 62km (39 miles) from Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT) at the northern entrance to the Suez Canal, the development emphasizes Egypt’s growing attractiveness as a trade hub at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. To be known as ‘Damietta Alliance Container Terminal SAE,’ the joint venture has been granted a 30-year concession to operate at the port.

The new terminal will have a total operational capacity of 3.3m teu and serve as Hapag-Lloyd´s dedicated strategic transshipment hub in the East Mediterranean, it said. “With the new terminal Hapag-Lloyd will significantly improve its transhipment operation in the East Mediterranean market as well as access to the local Egyptian trade,” said Rolf Habben Jansen, Hapag-Lloyd CEO.

The pace of development is quickening in Egypt, with Hutchison Ports Holdings announcing in August 2020 plans to build a new container facility at Abu Qir in Alexandria, and Abu Dhabi's AD Ports Group a plan last week to develop a multi-purpose terminal at Safaga Port. According to port manager APM Terminals, SCCT’s capacity has increased to 5.4 million teu, while DP World is understood to be expanding Sokhna Port’s capacity significantly.

“This is a very encouraging, well-planned partnership of the international and Egyptian private sector in order to position Egypt as a global hub for logistics and trade,” said Egyptian Transport Minister, Lt.-Gen. Eng. Kamel Al-Wazir. “In this first phase we will establish the port of Damietta as an integrated logistics hub for containers, which will then be followed by the establishment of logistic corridors reaching to different manufacturing areas in Egypt by railway network.”

While the consortium will clearly see the new facility primarily as a transhipment opportunity, Damietta does a brisk trade in furniture and wood exports and is seen as attractive as it does not come with the disadvantage of having to deal with Suez Canal tolls for Europe-Mediterranean strings.

However, regional competition is hotting up, with Piraeus, Valencia, Barcelona, Genoa, Tangier Med and Algeciras all spoiling for more transhipment business.

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