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Wellington Plans USD27.7 Million Dredging Project

The city of Wellington, New Zealand. Credit: NZ Tourism

Posted on June 9, 2016

By Zoe Reynolds, IHS Maritime 360

CentrePort in the New Zealand capital of Wellington is making final preparations to lodge an application for a NZD40 million (USD27.8 million) dredging project, despite recommendations that only four ports in the country need to handle larger vessels.

The port has completed its public consultation and is reviewing public feedback before proceeding, a port spokesperson told IHS Fairplay.

“We expect to lodge the consent application in the next one to two months. It is too early to give an indication on when we might go to tender,” the spokesman said.

Once completed, the project will allow 6,000 teu ships access to the port that can currently only accommodate 4,500 teu vessels or smaller.

One of New Zealand’s main disadvantages in international export markets is the country’s distance from major transport routes, but port upgrades and ability to consolidate greater volumes in selected ports served by larger ships can improve unit costs for the carriers and bring down logistics costs for shippers.

However, the CentrePort dredging plan has raised some eyebrows because Wellington is not one of New Zealand’s major ports or even on the New Zealand Shippers’ Council recommended hub ports blueprint.

Transport planning and economics consultant Richard Paling told The New Zealand Herald the plan sounded speculative given the port was “a bit out on a limb”. CentrePort handles about 100,000 containers a year compared with Auckland’s 970,000.

The government’s Future Freight Scenarios Study released last year found larger container ships coming to New Zealand would visit fewer ports and increase the overall cost of domestic freight. There has been a rush of dredging projects ever since as ports compete for the bigger ships, Tauranga and Napier among them.

A Shippers’ Council report earlier recommended only four deep-water ports in New Zealand: Auckland, Tauranga, Lyttelton, and Otaga. A new round of dredging in Auckland is nearing completion, with work under way at Tauranga.

The Lyttelton project is still in the planning stage, with the Otaga (Chalmers) port’s second phase dredging plan to allow 8,000 TEU vessels facing community opposition.

Wellington will apply for permission to dredge six million cubic metres of sediment from the harbour floor along a seven kilometre channel. “Enough to fill a million concrete trucks,” according to the project details showcased on the port website. This would deepen the depth of the harbour entrance to 17 metres.

Sediment from the dredging will be placed into the sea off Fitzroy Bay, just outside the harbour’s entrance. The proposal said it would increase the draft vessel limits from 11.6 metres to 14.5 metres.

Source: Fairply

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