Fortes­cue set to chal­lenge BHP’s towage dom­i­na­tion

Pilbara News - - News - Nick Evans

Fortes­cue Me­tals Group has taken the next step in its bid to chal­lenge BHP Bil­li­ton’s dom­i­na­tion of towage ser­vices at Port Hed­land, or­der­ing six tug­boats, to be built at a Viet­namese ship­yard.

Dutch multi­na­tional Da­men Ship­yards won the or­der for the six tugs, and said re­cently it ex­pected to de­liver the first ves­sel by late next year, with the rest to fol­low early in 2019.

Fortes­cue won its bid to chal­lenge BHP’s long-stand­ing mo­nop­oly on towage ser­vices at Port Hed­land in mid-2016, when the Pil­bara Ports Au­thor­ity handed the com­pany a li­cence for towage ser­vices at the world’s busiest bulk-han­dling port.

The de­ci­sion trig­gered an in­vest­ment of about $280 mil­lion by Fortes­cue, which is build­ing a har­bour be­hind its ex­ist­ing An­der­son Point load­ing berths for an ini­tial fleet of nine tug­boats. Six will come from Da­men, and the com­pany is still mulling its op­tions to fund and ac­quire the re­main­ing ves­sels.

Fortes­cue chief ex­ec­u­tive Nev Power con­firmed the or­der had been placed. “We are also ex­plor­ing op­tions to hire or lease an ad­di­tional three tugs,” he said.

Pic­ture: Teekay

FMG will use its new tugs, in­set, to com­pete with BHP Bil­li­ton’s mo­nop­oly on towage ser­vices at Port Hed­land.

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