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Tough times for Aden Container Terminal

Dubai - Aden Container Terminal (ACT) is struggling to shake off the loss of international operator DP World, as throughput fell to around 265,000 teu in 2013, despite a capacity of around 500,000 teu.

Dubai - Aden Container Terminal (ACT) is struggling to shake off the loss of international operator DP World, as throughput fell to around 265,000 teu in 2013, despite a capacity of around 500,000 teu, a senior international shipping executive tells Seatrade Global. “Local imports now account for 99% of all general cargo and container operations in Aden,” said the Yemen-based executive, who requested anonymity. “Wheat imports are up and with the opening of two cement plants with coal-fired generators, the port is also receiving bulk coal imports. Exports from Yemen, although on the increase, are still limited. Products exported are generally shipped in containers with a high proportion for local Red Sea destinations.”

Reasons for the slowdown include concerns over the political situation, a spate of strikes at ACT, and the fact that the port is limited in vessel size due to draught and equipment restrictions. It is by no means clear that a Chinese contractor and associated financiers, believed to be interested in extending the terminal and deepening the approach channel, will provide the finance required. “Transhipment operations at ACT ended in 2008 with no positive signs of any carrier looking to use ACT as a transhipment hub port,” he said. “Bunkering has more or less come to a full stop. Crew changes, repairs [and other agency services] have also more or less stopped.” Since the takeover by Aden Port Development Company and notwithstanding an agreement reached between the labour force and DP World that the labour will not strike for five years, ACT has faced two strikes, the last in December. The source believes the Yemeni government made a mistake in severing links to DP World and should have held on to the port operator.

“I also feel that under current management, the terminal will start having trouble over the maintenance of the equipment, although luckily for them, most of the shore-side equipment and terminal software is all new, thanks to DP World. However, the terminal has only two new gantries capable of handling the larger vessels [over 6,000 teu in capacity] and the remaining five are old and need replacing.” Tanker operations at Aden Refinery Company (ARC) are centred on imports of refined products, petrol and diesel, Mareb crude oil “imports” from the Ras Isa Terminal, and distribution of refined and heavy oils to the domestic Yemeni ports of Mukalla, Mokha, Socotra and Hodeidah. Export of crude mainly comes from Ash Shihr, LNG from the terminal at Bal Haf, and exports of naphtha and low-sulphur oils and Jet A1 from ARC.

(Source: Seatrade Global)

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