With an investment of -300 million for developing the Liverpool2 container terminal, the Peel Ports Group in the UK is trying to grab a larger pie of the India-UK containerized cargo market. Peter Faker, Director-Sales, Peel Ports, outlines his plans in an interview..
What is the purpose of your visit to India? The timing of your visit suggests that the Port of Liverpool means business.
The reason is simple. We want to improve our global presence as our port is a recognized container port in the world. In terms of trade, we cannot ignore India. This is mainly because there is a certain amount of trade within the global reach that we recognised as being priority, but we do not have a significant reach or footprint. In terms of general and bulk cargo, which we specialized in, (we) have good business contracts within this space with the world. As we are aware of a range of commodities (construction materials to garments) that have been traded through India to north of England and Ireland, in terms of export, we also have significant export presence from the UK and Ireland, closer to Liverpool than any other port meant for the Indian market. Cargo movement to India from the UK includes recyclable metal, plastics and paper.
In India, we are looking forward to meeting freight forwarders and cargo owners, including the Tata Group, to appraise them of the cost advantage that they would get by using the Liverpool2 port, which is expected to be operational by 2015 and can handle large container ships.
Our main intention for India is to develop and provide the structural and logical abilities for the business development in a cost-effective manner for the Indian market.
At present, from India, we see containers with commodities such as stone and ceramic tiles, and garments which are destined to our region.
How cost-effective would the port be once it completes the Liverpool2 container terminal?
As of now, despite 60 per cent of all UK trade with India being located within 240 km of Liverpool port, only 5 per cent of containerized trade from India goes through this port. Some 95 per cent of containerized Indian cargo reaches the UK via the southern ports, and is then moved north by road or rail. Now the main reason to develop this container terminal is because the infrastructure required to handle large vessels that go from India to the UK exists only in the southern ports. Hence, we are developing this terminal with highly advanced equipment. Meanwhile, it is the cargo owners in the UK who pushed us to take up such massive development work. For instance, when they start coming out with their annual tenders, they could put a query on the cost involved through various route options, including one through Liverpool2. In terms of cost, Liverpool compares favourably with other ports in the UK, such as Southampton and Felixstowe, and results in an average per container saving of ú60. When the regular liner services start calling on Liverpool, the actual benefits would be much more over time.
What about the port´s expansion plans, and how much of investment will it entail? Will these expansion plans give enough opportunity to Indian contractors too?
The existing 1 million TEU capacity box terminal at Liverpool port is the third largest in the UK, it has to be accessed through a lock that currently restricts the size of vessels that can be handled to 5,000 TEUs. The ongoing Liverpool2 project, which will add another million TEUs to the capacity, is constructing a new terminal outside of the locks, on the river, capable of handling the largest current container vessels. A project worth ú300 million is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015. The project was envisaged considering the mammoth sizes of container vessels being built today and, significantly, to leverage the geographical and logistical advantages of Liverpool and north-west UK. Billed as a new, world class hub port for the UK and Ireland, Liverpool2 will offer the benefits of cost, efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Peel Ports is the second largest port operator in the UK, managing a variety of facilities, of which it is the port and harbour authority in seven of them. Importantly, it also owns the Manchester Ship Canal (and the land that goes with it), a 70-km waterway that links Liverpool to the heart of Manchester.
In a nutshell, when will the project be commissioned, how will it shape up?
The terminal will have a quay of nearly 900 metres with draught of 16.5 metres alongside (existing draught is 12.5 m), enabling the simultaneous handling of two 18,500 TEU vessels.
The first five of eight rail-mounted quay cranes, with an outreach of 60 metres, are on order, as also are 12 of an eventual 22 of the most modern semi-automatic cantilever rail mounted gantry cranes for the yards, besides other equipment. I must tell you that once commissioned, the Liverpool2 will be Europe´s first semi-automated container terminal.
When completed, what will be the additional offerings from the port?
Liverpool2 will be the best-connected container terminal in the UK, with 10 motorway networks within 16 km, effective rail connections and a unique container shuttle service operating on the Manchester Ship Canal that offers connections to distribution facilities along the length of the canal. As the terminal nears completion, the capacity and frequency of the vessels in the shuttle service is proposed to be increased from the present average of 360 TEUs.
The terminal will be implementing an auto-gate system, with all trucks requiring a port issued registered RFID tag, and drivers required to present biometric tags identification so as to enable expeditious handling, with a high security level and, thereby, a faster vehicle turnaround. The systems we are putting in place will ensure that a significant majority of the vehicles coming to the port will he handled and on their way within 30 minutes.
How is Liverpool important to promote bilateral trade with India?
Currently we are offering global coverage through many of the major shipping lines. And, we are confident of a growth in liner services connecting to the new terminal, especially including India.
As per British government data, the UK aims to double its bilateral trade with India to ú23 billion, while India seeks to increase bilateral trade with the UK to ú24 billion by 2015. Total UK goods and services exports to India increased by 14 per cent from January to September 2013.