Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd (BPHB) plans capacity expansion of its Bintulu International Container Terminal (BICT) to cope with rising demand as it has recorded double-digit growth in container throughput for three consecutive years.
A feasibility study on the BICT’s expansion is currently under way and the plan will involve infrastructure development and procuring container handling equipment.
The BICT handled 349,792 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) last year, representing 13.1% growth over 2017 and the the highest ever volume, according to BPHB group chief executive officer Datuk Mohammad Medan Abdullah.
“We have seen three consecutive years of double digit growth to date. Our growth rate in container volume surpassed the national container throughput average of 3.7% growth annually.
“In terms of capacity, the BICT is currently operating at 78% capacity with the utilisation expected to improve further in 2019 in line with expected increase in container volume,” he added.
Short-term measures to improve operational efficiencies and service delivery on container sector include tackling specific bottleneck at the container yard, berth window management and allocating the general cargo wharf into container feedering operation.
Reviewing BPHB’s yearly performance, Mohammad said the strong growth had strengthened BICT as the No. 1 container port in Sarawak and Sabah in terms of container throughput and connectivity.
“The impressive throughput was driven by increased import and export due to active economic development in Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), particularly the Samalaju Industrial Park (SIP),increasing trend towards containerisation of cargo and more transhipment volumes from Sabah and Sarawak.
“Of the total containerised cargo handled at BICT, 23.7% (82,930 TEUs) were transhipment cargoes,” he said in the company’s 2018 annual report.
As part of the on-going efforts to enhance service and operational delivery,BICT has deployed additional yard equipment and resources to support the container yard’s operations.
2018 saw BICT attracting more shipping connectivity to Intra-Asia ports with the introduction of the new container shipping routes by SITC Container Lines (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd.
BICT is now directly connected to Indonesian ports such as Makassar, Balikpapan and Semarang as well as more ports in China, such as Shanghai,Xiamen and Shokou.
At present, BICT is connected to regional and global container trade lanes through nine major shipping lines. Three of the shipping lines – Evergreen Marine Corp (M) Sdn Bhd, SITC Container Lines and Harbour-Link Line Sdn Bhd – offer direct shipping services to the Intra-Asia ports, thus boosting BICT’s connectivity offering to customers.
Mohammad said Bintulu Port’s dry bulk cargo sector also registered an impressive 8.3% growth in cargo throughput to 6.86 million tonnes in 2018 over 2017 due to higher raw materials’ imports (like aluminium oxide, silica quartz, manganese ore, semi coke and iron ore) generated from energy-intensive industries in Samalaju Industrial Park as their plants ramped up production to meet increased demand from customers.
The export of woodchips via Bintulu Port jumped by nearly 190% to 388,759 tonnes from 134,729 tonnes year-on-year due to higher demand from Japan and Indonesia.
Bintulu Port also recorded higher palm oil throughput of 4.32 million tonnes (+2.3%) and break bulk cargo of 1.77 million tonnes (+5.3%) during the year under review.
There was higher export volume of palm oil products to China, India, Pakistan and US.and Bintulu Port handled some 95% of Sarawak’s total production.Bintulu Port is also the largest palm oil products’ exporting terminal in Malaysia, handling about 26.2% of the country’s total export.
On liquified natural gas (LNG), Mohammad said LNG cargo delcined to 23.68 million tonnes in 2018 from 27.14 million tonnes in 2017 due mainly to gas supply disruption experienced throughout the year.
“The LNG export market for cargoes from Bintulu Port saw China emerging as a prominent buyer behind Japan, indicating the rise of China as a major global LNG market.
“To capitalise on this,the group has been actively pursuing opportunities in terms of new ways of handling,transportation and export of LNG via ISO tank containers,” he added.