PD Ports looks east for Northern Gateway business
• PD Ports urges immediate rail action from U.K. government
PD Ports Ltd. is sending senior managers to India later this month to entice Asian cargoes to its 1.5 million-TEU Northern Gateway Container Terminal development in Teesport, in the North East of England, due to open 2011.
The week-long visit to Mumbai follows previous promotional trips by PD Ports to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
“India is one of the global leaders in the shipping industry and is a key player in the world economy. Approximately, 95 percent of the country’s trade by volume (70 percent in terms of value) is moved by sea. It is that traffic from India that is destined for the retailers and consumers of Northern Britain that PD Ports wants to attract at Teesport,” PD Ports said.
First phase construction of the '300 million-plus Northern Gateway development is scheduled to start next year. U.K. government approval for the project was obtained in February — just under two years after the application was made — when objections, including one from Hutchison Ports UK Ltd, operators of the Port of Felixstowe in the south, were resolved.
Aside from the Northern Gateway terminal, the U.K.’s container handling capacity is to be boosted with expansions at ports such as Felixstowe, Liverpool, and Bristol, as well as the new 3.5 million-TEU London Gateway site in Essex.
Martyn Pellew, group development director of PD Ports, told Shippers’ NewsWire that Northern Gateway will finally provide a deep-sea option for Asian cargoes destined for the north of England and Scotland that in the past have been forced through the congested southern ports.
However, he conceded that shipping lines are reluctant to make the detour up the North Sea and that the project won’t proceed without volume throughput guarantees. As such PD Ports is actively seeking a co-investor such as a major container line, not necessarily for a financial contribution, but to secure sufficient volumes, he said.
“We are talking to people with differing levels of interest,” said Pellew. “All the majors, Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM, are already doing feeders into Teesport so they got some traffic coming. Ideally, we'd like to have one of the big operators to secure enough volume to get us started.”
PD Ports’ pitch to lines involves getting customers already on site such as ASDA Wal-Mart, which in 2006 opened a 350,000-square-foot import center at Teesport, to speak positively about their experiences. Tesco is also building a 1.2 million-square-foot import center to open in 2009.
“Shipping lines will only want to come if there are shippers here. The world and U.K.’s largest retailers are either here already or coming,” Pellew said.
PD Ports Ltd, was formed following the takeover of PD Ports plc by Australia’s Babcock and Brown Infrastructure in February 2006.