Khalifa Port to open new opportunities for trade

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Khalifa Port to open new opportunities for trade

Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port, which is region’s first semi-automated container terminal, is preparing for its grand opening on September 1, bringing new opportunities for the oil-rich emirate.

By Haseeb Haider

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Published: Tue 21 Aug 2012, 10:43 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:34 PM

The new port would welcome the world’s jumbo vessels with a length of upto 400 metres and a draft of 16 metres to drop their anchors, which was not possible at Mina Zayed.

“The operations of the new container terminal will officially commence on September 1,” Martijn Van de Linde, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Terminals, said in an interview.

Khalifa Port will be the UAE’s first port with direct access to the Etihad Rail network when it opens in 2015-16. — Supplied photo

The transition from Mina Zayed would be completed in six months, the chief executive said.

“The opening means the infrastructure for the first phase of the megaproject will be officially completed,” the terminal operator said in an interview with Khaleej Times.

“We will offer the shipping lines, importers and exporters and not least the trucking companies vastly improved service levels of true world-class standard,” he said.

The chief executive of ADT said that the container terminal at Port Zayed, which served Abu Dhabi for the past four decades, would be de-commissioned in the first quarter of next year.

However, the general cargo including steel, flour, fruit and vegetable would continue to be handled at the port for at least for a number of years to come. Also the oil mill and the flour mill which are located on the port premises would continue to operate in Mina Zayed. Once the container business transition is complete, some facilities in Mina Zayed would be turned into a cruise terminal, to support the increasing tourist arrivals on cruise liners.

Served by six of the world’s largest ship-to-shore cranes from the outset, it will also be the first port in the region connected to Etihad Rail freight from 2015-16.

In the last four years, he said Abu Dhabi’s industrial diversification has created export cargoes bringing business for the port.

“The export cargo handling in our port has increased 20 per cent in the past two years,” he said.

The chief executive is confident that his port “will have enough business to handle in the coming years, since project pipeline in Abu Dhabi is not going to dry down.” The expansion into oil and gas and infrastructure projects which used imported material would continue for several years to come, he said.

Despite global economic crisis, the terminal is busy due to Abu Dhabi’s economic resilience. In the January-July period the Mina Zayed handled 409,877 TEUs against 408,000 in the same period last year.

In 2011, the terminal handled 47 per cent more cargoes to 767,713 TEUs against 521,156 TEUs in 2010, showing a strong recovery in the economy after the global financial crunch slowed down business activities.

Khalifa Port would be the UAE’s first with direct access to the Etihad Rail network when it opens in 2015-16, making the transportation of cargoes easier within the country and to neighbouring countries as the network develops.

Abu Dhabi is building the railway system in stages. In the first stage Shah and Habshan oil installations of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company are being connected.

In the stage one railway line is being constructed on Al Ain and Ghuwaifat on Saudi Arabia border, which will make transportation of cargo to Oman and Saudi Arabia quicker and efficient and open new avenues of regional cargo transportation. Managed and operated by Abu Dhabi Terminals, the new container terminal features advanced automation that increases efficiencies and predictability while limiting variability so the operator, shipping lines, trucking companies and the importers and exporters can further optimise their logistics processes and avoid unnecessary costs.

The infrastructure has been designed to cater for the largest container vessels operating or planned, and includes some of the world’s largest ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, the chief executive said.

In the container yard, unmanned automated stacking cranes ensure each container is always optimally positioned for the fastest possible delivery to either ships for loading or to trucks for delivery to Abu Dhabi’s businesses, he said.

The automation also extends to the landside operations where bookings and the clearing process can be done online in advance, doing away with the time consuming manual processes seen today. Combined with automated systems that use Optical Character Recognition or OCR and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), this ensures the optimal logistics processes.

The port serves as a dedicated enabler for the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad), part of the proposition, and which will be one of the largest industrial zones in the world, offering its tenants easy access to markets, a low-cost operating environment, and ease of doing business.

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