RAK Ports has launched two new bulk cargo berths at Saqr Port that will expand the ports ability to export bulk cargo from the emirate to markets further afield.
In addition, the port authority’s decision to award Hutchinson Ports with a concession to operate the 300,000 TEU container terminal at the port has given the emirate greater ability to accommodate mainline container vessels.
“We started the construction of the two 780m bulk berths, dredged to 18m in September 2017, the first was completed in September, 2018 and the second was launched in the first quarter of this year,” says Captain Cliff Brand, CEO, RAK Ports.
“We’re looking to expand our markets, by exporting the product further afield than our current markets and we believe that by accommodating Capesize vessels we’ll be able to do that.”
Major bulk clients such as Stevin Rock, which operates the largest limestone quarry in the world in RAK, can now export to markets in the Far East (Singapore, Hong Kong and China), as well as Australia.
“Having the facility of Capesize vessels will enable us to reduce the cost of freight, which lets our customers get the product to these markets at a competitive rate,” explains Brand.
“We can now handle two Cape 180 class vessels simultaneously. These vessels can load up to 180,000 tons of cargo. Our inner berths are dredged to 12.2m, so we typically handle Panamax vessels on those inner berths,” he adds.
The fourth-berth, 350,000-TEU container terminal, meanwhile, is intended to enhance Ras Al Khaimah’s logistics infrastructure as a gateway port.
“The container terminal concession was given to Hutchinson Ports in January, 2018. We want to attract the gateway market in Ras Al Khaimah, which we estimate to be between 250 and 300,000 TEUs,” says Brand.
“Our intention is to turn Saqr Port into a feeder port for import and export cargo in Ras Al Khaimah, rather than having it trucked overland from Jebel Ali. There are cost savings to be made through feedering it through Saqr Port to Jebel Ali, rather than sending it directly overland, primarily because there are large manufacturing industries located in Ras Al Khaimah that are located very close to Saqr Port.”
The container terminal can currently handle Panamax vessels, giving it mainline capability should the need arise, says Brand.
“At the moment we handle typical feeder vessels in the range of 150 to 300 TEU, however the port can handle vessels up to 290m in length, which means we can accommodate mainline direct calls between the UAE and neighbouring countries, such as India.”