Ports and ship­ping

Conges­tion looks to be a thing of the past thanks to some ma­jor changes to the coun­try’s two largest ports.

Business Advantage Papua New Guinea - - Contents - By Kevin Mcquil­lan

Ma­jor im­prove­ments are be­ing made in PNG’S port in­fras­truc­ture.

PNG Ports Cor­po­ra­tion is mov­ing the port of Port Moresby across to the large har­bour is­land, Mo­tukea, in or­der to re­lieve conges­tion in the cen­tral busi­ness district of the cap­i­tal. The port had reached op­er­a­tional ca­pac­ity and was ham­strung by traf­fic conges­tion.

PNG Ports’ Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Stan­ley Alphonse, says the new port fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to cost more than K300 mil­lion and, when com­pleted in Novem­ber 2017, will al­low in­ter­na­tional ves­sels of up to 240 me­tres in size to berth, dis­charge and take on cargo bound for Aus­tralia, New Zealand, and other Pa­cific and Asian ports.

Mo­tukea will be big­ger than the cur­rent Lae port, which is cur­rently PNG’S busiest. PNG Ports Cor­po­ra­tion Lim­ited, the owner of the port, has en­gaged Cur­tain Bros PNG, the orig­i­nal owner of Mo­tukea, to carry out the work.

‘This is a world-class pro­ject, man­aged by our very own peo­ple and they will de­liver ahead of, or on, time and within bud­get,’ says Alphonse.

Cur­tain Bros is ex­pand­ing its own ship re­pair fa­cil­i­ties by build­ing a large dry dock, ca­pa­ble of tak­ing Pana­max ships for re­pairs, ac­cord­ing to Gen­eral Man­ager, Justin Mcgann.

Peter Langslow, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Steamships, one of the largest users of PNG’S ports, be­lieves there has been steady im­prove­ment in PNG’S ship­ping in­fras­truc­ture.

‘Port ef­fi­ciency and in­fras­truc­ture in Lae is much im­proved com­pared to the tor­rid years of the PNG LNG pro­ject con­struc­tion, and since the open­ing of the new berth at the Lae tidal basin at the end of 2015,’ he says. ‘The conges­tion prob­lem in Lae has been al­most en­tirely re­lieved.’

Langslow says be­fore the conges­tion was im­proved, its sub­sidiary Con­sort Ex­press Lines was ‘ef­fec­tively’ los­ing one ship a month to conges­tion, just wait­ing to get onto a berth.

‘Such lost pro­duc­tiv­ity was ex­tremely dam­ag­ing, so the turn­around in this re­gard has been very pos­i­tive. There’s presently no conges­tion prob­lem in Port Moresby.’

In­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tor

The de­vel­op­ment of Phase 2 of the Lae Tidal Basin pro­ject, which in­cludes the port up­grade and an in­dus­trial zone, is ‘on track’, ac­cord­ing to Kumul Con­sol­i­dated Hold­ings (KCH).


This is de­spite the dis­cov­ery of ma­jor struc­tural de­fects in Phase 1 of the pro­ject. The K809 mil­lion [US$266 mil­lion] Phase 1 pro­ject was com­pleted in 2014 by con­trac­tor China Har­bour En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany (CHEC).

PNG Ports’ Alphonse says an in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tor for both the Lae port and Mo­tukea ter­mi­nal has been sought. This would mark a ma­jor change in the way ports are man­aged; PNG Ports has tra­di­tion­ally op­er­ated the na­tion’s ports directly.

An­other part of the Lae port de­vel­op­ment is Huon In­dus­trial Park, which will store wet (gen­eral fu­els and chem­i­cals) cargo, dry bulk ma­te­ri­als, feed stocks and be the base for a min­eral ex­port fa­cil­ity. The cost is es­ti­mated to be K258 mil­lion.

Lae’s port han­dles more than 60 per cent of PNG’S in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic trade. Alphonse says that Phase 2 in­cludes a sec­ond mul­ti­pur­pose berth, a tidal basin, ter­mi­nal works build­ings, stor­age ar­eas, roads, drainage, wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and sew­er­age ser­vices.

A sec­ond berth of at least 240 me­tres length is re­quired for the ter­mi­nal to op­er­ate as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble by an ex­pe­ri­enced ter­mi­nal op­er­a­tor, Alphonse says. ‘This will en­able two ves­sels of any­thing up to 200 me­tres length over­all to berth at the same time.’

Alphonse says PNG Ports has held dis­cus­sions with po­ten­tial ten­ants from the min­ing, petroleum, power and fish­eries sec­tors. The gov­ern­ment es­ti­mates that when the ex­panded port is fully op­er­a­tional, it will cre­ate 5000 new jobs. Even­tu­ally, as a con­se­quence of growth in rev­enue from more pi­lotage, wharfage and berthage, it is pro­jected that 10,000 new jobs will be cre­ated.

Re­gional ports

PNG Ports is grad­u­ally re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing 13 other ports around the coun­try. It is needed. Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank, PNG’S re­gional ports ‘pro­vide only a ba­sic ser­vice for coastal traf­fic and are of­ten un­us­able in bad weather.’ The Loren­gau port re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram on Manus Is­land, for ex­am­ple, in­cludes the in­stal­la­tion of wharf fend­ers, a standby gen­er­a­tor set, new fenc­ing and an ac­cess gate. 

Pic­tures: Steamships/stephen Rae.

Left: Ni­ug­ini Coast ar­rives in Lae. Main: Mo­tukea Is­land, lo­ca­tion for Port Moresby’s new port.

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