Private investors inject $ 1.3 billion into UK ports

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Port of Pembroke is investing $ 80 million in improvements (Image courtesy of Port of Pembroke)

Posted on Jan 7, 2022 5:53 PM by

The maritime executive

UK ports have defied the disruption of COVID-19 to maintain a growth trajectory by attracting investment, despite the impact of the disruption of COVID-19 and Brexit. The British Ports Association (BPA) says the country’s ports have attracted investment to the tune of $ 1.3 billion in 2021, up from $ 809.5 million in 2020.

Most importantly was a new plan announced by DP World to invest $ 404.7 million to set up a new berth at its London Gateway terminal. The fourth berth will increase the capacity of the container port by a third and allow it to accommodate the world’s largest ships. Its opening will coincide with the delivery of a new wave of 24,000 TEU vessels that will operate between Asia and Europe.

Other notable port infrastructure investments announced last year included the start of a new $ 80.9 million works program to redevelop the Pembroke Port areas, an expansion of $ 67.4 million at the Port of Cromarty Firth, $ 54 million investment in the Port of Leith through Forth Ports, $ 33.7 development of the East Port of Lowestoft energy facility and new $ 12.4 million bulk terminal of Teesport dollars.

“We are delighted to see an increase in investment in UK ports in a wide variety of sectors, from containers to offshore energy. Ports remain attractive to investors as a well-managed industry with strong long-term growth prospects, ”said Mark Simmonds, Director of BPA. of Politics.

He added that investments are widely distributed, with container ports, offshore energy and cruise terminals all attracting significant private capital, underscoring the strong confidence in the sector and its potential for growth.

The increase in investment comes as UK ports are recovering from the drop in throughput inflicted by the pandemic, although there remains significant volatility. “The ports remain busy, but in many cases they are handling unprecedented volumes. We expect this to continue through 2022,” said Simmonds.

In 2020, when UK ports attracted $ 809.5 million in investment, the biggest project was the $ 162 million Harwich Haven Canal deepening at the Port of Felixstowe. The deepening of the canal means that the world’s largest container ships will be able to access Felixstowe, which handles more than a third of the UK’s containers.

UK ports handle nearly 500 million tonnes of cargo each year, covering 95 percent of the country’s international trade. The country’s port volumes saw an unprecedented 17% drop in 2020, mainly caused by a 20% drop in inbound cargo volumes as the global pandemic struck. As an import-driven economy, inbound freight accounts for 60% of the port’s total volume.

According to BPA data, cargo volumes have returned to pre-pandemic levels, with container volume increasing 4% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019, while breakbulk increased by 18 % and the dry bulk of 5%. Ro-Ro volumes remained stable while liquid bulk decreased by 13%. Liquid bulk accounts for around 40 percent of UK port tonnages, and five ports handle 60 percent of the country’s liquid bulk cargoes.

“The removal of liquid bulk from statistics reveals that the volume of other types of combined cargo, including containers, timber and steel, is expected to be at its highest level in the past four years,” said a BPA Discussion Paper on the Impact of the Pandemic. on British ports.

This year, as Brexit takes full effect, the UK government is implementing strict border control measures on goods coming from the EU. To enable seamless implementation in July, the government, through the $ 270 million Port Infrastructure Fund, is providing one-time grants to more than 40 ports to build the facilities needed for additional border controls of traded goods. with the EU.

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