Abu Dhabi Ports’ container volume up 82.4% in the first half of 2019
Abu Dhabi Ports, one of the UAE’s leading proponents of regional trade and investment, revealed robust operational performance with significant volume growth in the first half of 2019. The company, which operates ports and terminals across the UAE, as well as Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), said its success was driven in part by concession agreements signed with leading maritime firms, such as Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and COSCO SHIPPING Ports (CSP).
The agreements have seen an increase in the number of vessels taking advantage of Khalifa Port’s strategic location and world-class facilities, as well as significant further investment in state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure.
Container volume at Khalifa Port rose from 620,974 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) in H1 2018 to 1,135,021 TEU in H1 2019 – an increase of 82.4%. This growth was fuelled predominantly through the MSC concession agreement, which was signed last year. Abu Dhabi Ports anticipates further growth thanks to completion of the CSP Abu Dhabi Container Terminal, which was built in partnership with COSCO SHIPPING Ports and which began trial operations in Q2 2019 – ahead of the start of full commercial operations in Q4 2019.
Both agreements are part of Abu Dhabi Ports’ five-year strategy to boost the UAE’s trade and investment flows, and drive the diversification of the UAE economy. As a result, Abu Dhabi Ports will be expanding the capacity of Khalifa Port to 9.1 million by 2024. The port is capable of handling the world’s largest vessels with two 21,000 TEU mega-vessels, the COSCO SHIPPING SOLAR and PISCES, having already called at CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal earlier this year.
In addition to the increase in container volume, Abu Dhabi Ports also witnessed a significant increase in the total volume of cargo handled across its ports, which also include Fujairah Terminals, Zayed Port and Mussafah Port. Total cargo increased to just under 9.7 million tonnes in the first half of 2019, a rise of 10% compared to the same period in 2018.
In June, the first fully-laden Capesize vessel to ever call at a GCC port arrived at Khalifa Port after Abu Dhabi Ports modified the approach channels to accommodate Capesize vessels. The channels have been deepened from 16.5 metres to 18.5 metres draft and widened from 250 metres to 280 metres.
Meanwhile, KIZAD continues to attract more investment, with agreements signed with DHL Global Forwarding and Gulf Compound Blending Ind. Ltd in H1 2019, while work was also started on the AED 2.2 billion Roadbot Tyre Project. Once completed, the 275,000 square metre facility will have a production capacity of 10 million Passenger Car Radial (PCR) tyres and 1 million truck and bus radials by 2022. To date, Abu Dhabi Ports has attracted more than 500 companies to KIZAD and more than AED 65 billion in investment across multiple sectors, including metals, polymers, oil and gas, automotive, food, energy, and logistics.
Abu Dhabi Ports attributed the slight drop in Roll-on Roll-off (RORO) figures, from 78,163 units in H1 2018 to 73,590 unit this year, to a drop in new car sales.
However, Abu Dhabi Ports saw a significant increase in cruise passengers in the first half of the year, with the total number increasing from 237,169 in H1 2018 to 321,277 for the same period this year – an increase of 35%. This was reflected in the number of cruise vessels calling at either Zayed Port, Fujairah Terminals or Sir Bani Yas Cruise Terminal, with total calls increasing from 93 to 129 – an increase of 38%. Fujairah’s cruise passenger numbers almost tripled from 5,931 to 14,441. Abu Dhabi Ports attributed the significant rise in passenger numbers due to investment in cruise facilities at the three terminals, as well as strategic partnerships with organisations such as Etihad Airways, which serve to improve the cruise passenger experience and render Abu Dhabi a destination of choice within the region.