A view of the harbour in Sydney in January 2012. (THE CHRONICLE HERALD )
Many pieces of the puzzle are yet to fall into place, but the chief executive officer of the Port of Sydney believes announcements will be made this year about construction of a major, ultra-modern container terminal.
“I am not guaranteeing anything, but (based on) my experience I am more than optimistic,” Marlene Usher said Thursday.
Usher’s comments came of the heels of a rebranding announcement earlier this week for the proposed project. Harbor Port Development Partners (HPDP), who have exclusive rights to market and develop the port, and the Port of Sydney, said the proposed terminal will be known as Novaporte and the planned adjacent logistics park will be called Novazone. Over 800 hectares of land have been set aside for the project which includes a greenfield site for the proposed terminal.
“The name reflects the international nature of our project,” Albert Barbusci, the harbour port partners’ CEO said in a release. Both the Novaporte and Novazone will operate within a foreign trade zone, he said.
The goal of the terminal is to host ultra-large container ships with capacities of 16,000, twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and up. Vessels of this size are not yet sailing on North Atlantic trade routes or on routes between the North American East Coast and Asia.
Usher believes the rebranding differentiates the container project from other projects at the Port of Sydney.
“The Harbor Port Development Partners felt that they needed to kind of separate that and they have been working on a brand. They feel they are close to a project and felt it was a good time to put it out there,” she said.
There are many components to the project required: a contractor, a shipping line, a terminal operator, a financier. “They have to have all of the pieces in place,” he said.
“It’s not just build it and they will come. So they are doing it (rebranding) as a sign they are close and they are trying to get the brand out there and trying to attract industry people,” Usher said. Plus, she added, with the adjoining logistics park, the HPDP are making people aware there is potential for “a mega hub on the East Coast.”
The container terminal proponents have been marketing the port as the Port of Sydney and Usher was asked if the project rebranding would cause confusion among potential clients, especially among marine industry people in Asia, which has been a major area of the HPDP’s marketing efforts.
Usher said there would be some concern for confusion if the project weren't “so far down the road. We are talking to China every week. We are in ongoing discussions with them, so I don’t see any confusion.” The port has been in touch with all the major Asian players, she added.
In December, the HPDP signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Communications Construction Company, (CCCC), the world’s largest port construction and design company, to discuss arrangements related to the design, construction and ownership of the marine container terminal. In addition, CCCC would provide container cranes, gantries and other port-related equipment.
The terminal project, which is contingent on a feasibility study being undertaken by CCCC, is expected to cost in excess of $1 billion.
Usher said the feasibility study has already begun based on aerial and engineering information provided to CCCC. She said CCCC officials will be in Sydney during the first week of March to continue work on the study and to talk with local engineering firms, etc.
“Having their presence here will be important,” she said.
Published February 12, 2016 - 8:14am