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Forth Ports and DP World announce a joint bid for a freeport on the Thames with the appointment of Vivid Economics

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Forth Ports and DP World announce a joint bid for a freeport on the Thames with the appointment of Vivid Economics. Image: DP World London Gateway
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Two of the UK’s largest port businesses – Forth Ports Group and DP World – today announce a partnership which will submit a joint freeport bid incorporating the Port of Tilbury and DP World London Gateway. As part of the commitment to this joint bid, the partnership announces the appointment of Vivid Economics who will provide expert advice and economic analysis during the process.

The partnership brings together the complementary strengths of the two major ports on the Thames. Together the two port businesses make Thurrock one of the UK’s strongest port and distribution clusters.

Both operations in Tilbury and at London Gateway have the scale, global connectivity and the ability to expand and develop land at scale as the market demands. The digitally connected multi-site free trade zone will focus on clean growth while seeking to act as an innovation hub across a range of sectors.

The Thurrock freeport bid will strongly support the area’s employment-focused growth strategy, positioning Thurrock as the port capital of the UK. The Thurrock economy was worth £4 billion in 2018 and has experienced robust population growth over the past decade. While the area lags behind the surrounding region in wages, skills and employment, the opportunities unlocked by a joint freeport will create significant employment opportunities while delivering on the national levelling-up agenda.

Current unemployment rates in the area are above the national average at 4.6%: up to 36,000 direct and indirect jobs could be created at London Gateway alone, once the site is fully built out. Thurrock’s local economy is already benefitting from port-focused development at Tilbury and London Gateway, with projects at both supporting Thurrock council’s employment objective.

The Port of Tilbury is the largest multi-purpose port serving the South East and is the UK’s fastest-growing port. It is a national export hub surrounded by high-value industrial clusters that would be boosted by freeport status. Utilising the port’s experience of operating a freeport in the recent past (Tilbury held freeport status until 2012), streamlining customs processes and developing new terminals, the port is committed to bid for a designation in Thurrock. The port has invested £1 billion during 2012-20, which has seen it double the size of its business in the past 10 years and is projected to double the volume of cargo across the quay (from 16 million to 32 million tonnes) and increase direct employment (from 3,500 to 12,000 jobs).

DP World London Gateway is the UK’s newest container port, with the DP World Group having invested over £1.5bn to develop a state-of-the-art deep-sea container port and Logistics Park. London Gateway offers flexible, fast supply chain solutions with the ability to handle the largest containers vessels, and boasts 9.25 million sq ft of convenient, modern warehousing space.

DP World will draw upon the Group’s experience in setting up and operating the Middle East’s most important free trade zone at Jebel Ali in Dubai and will implement a secure and safe set of customs and operating processes to ensure port users can take advantage of the full range of customs and financial incentives to offer in order to attract new investment to the UK.

Details of the bid will be developed with Vivid over the coming months with the policy statement by the UK Government expected to be published in the autumn. The timescale for submission of a bid is expected to be towards the end of 2020/early 2021.

Commenting on the announcement: Charles Hammond, Chief Executive of Forth Ports (owner of Port of Tilbury), said:

“I am looking forward to working with the team at London Gateway on this submission for freeport status. Thurrock is at the heart of the port industry in the South East and the development hub of the Thames estuary. This joint bid brings together our complementary strengths which will create a strong, export-focused case for a freeport designation. Our appointment of Vivid Economics clearly demonstrates our commitment to creating a compelling submission later this year. Like London Gateway, at Tilbury we have a robust network of international connections, streamlined customs systems and developable land close to key markets. In May this year, we opened the UK’s largest unaccompanied freight ferry terminal at Tilbury2, further strengthening our location to support existing and new business opportunities.”

Ernst Schulze DP World UK CEO commented that:

“We believe a freeport on the Thames will ensure that the UK continues to be an attractive destination for inward investment, and that bringing London Gateway within a freeport will help lower the total cost of trade to the benefit of UK industry and retailers and ensure resilience in the overall supply chain. Working with Forth Ports will enable us to create the most sustainable, strategically located, trade enabling centre of excellence in the UK, whilst allowing us to support the development of local industry and create high skilled employment for the local area.”

James Patterson-Waterston, Head of Cities and Infrastructure at Vivid Economics, said:

“We are excited to apply our knowledge from working in trade and investment across the world to further develop a dynamic and globally competitive freeport in the inner Thames Estuary. Given the substantial trade passing through Thurrock ports currently, this area is clearly a strong candidate for the new wave of ambitious and strategic freeports in the UK. We look forward to working with Forth Ports and DP World to develop a compelling case for freeport designation.”

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Maritime

Milaha signs key deal with major oilfield services firm

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Milaha signs key deal with major oilfield services firm. Image: MILAHA
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Milaha, one of the largest Maritime and Logistics Organizations in the Middle East, has entered into a formal agreement to cooperate with leading American oilfield services firm, Schlumberger Limited.

The Offshore & Marine pillar of Milaha signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will support value building projects while jointly driving Tawteen initiatives for Qatar. Led by Qatar Petroleum, the “Tawteen” program aims to localize the energy sector’s supply chain and create new investment opportunities to retain ‘economic value’ in Qatar.

Signed as a five-year joint development project, it will include a Qatar-owned, Qatar-flagged and Qatar-operated Oil Well Stimulation Vessel. The first of these vessels will be designed and outfitted in the country, creating the inaugural FLEXSTIM platform, which will be modified, owned and operated locally.

Pre-engineering for this significant scheme has already begun and will evolve during the final quarter of 2020.

The resulting Qatar-owned value chain will be a joint service that enhances the expertise of a global multinational service firm like Schlumberger as well as the leading Qatar-based multi-disciplined local service company like Milaha.

With over 70 years of presence in Qatar, Schlumberger supplies the petroleum industry with several key services such as seismic acquisition and processing, well testing and directional drilling, artificial lifts, well completions and groundwater extraction.

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HHLA invests in the Adriatic Port of Trieste

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HHLA invests in the Adriatic Port of Trieste. Image: HHLA
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The Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) is taking a majority stake of 50.01 percent in the multi-function terminal “Piattaforma Logistica Trieste” (PLT) in the Italian seaport of Trieste. An agreement was signed on 28 September. The investment will be allocated contractually and organisationally to HHLA International GmbH. With this investment, HHLA is positioning itself in a growing market on the Adriatic whose strategic position offers great opportunities for development. This will be HHLA’s third participation in a port outside Hamburg after Odessa (Ukraine) and Tallinn (Estonia).

Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of HHLA’s Executive Board: “The Adriatic region has been developing very dynamically in the past few years. As the northernmost port in the Mediterranean, Trieste is the southern gateway to Central and Eastern Europe. The investment is a strategic expansion to our existing port and intermodal network. The terminal gives us the opportunity to actively participate in and help shape new and changing cargo flows and underline our ambitions to grow internationally. At the same time, we will continue to enhance our terminals in Hamburg by investing in facilities and technology. We are a Hamburg company, at home in Europe and operating globally.”

Francesco Parisi, Chairman of PLT’s Executive Board: “HHLA’s participation strengthens the growth prospects of PLT and of the entire Port of Trieste. Our development strategy in the direction of Central and Eastern Europe fits in with HHLA’s orientation. The position of the new partners confirms us in the development of the terminal expansion we are pushing ahead with.”

The terminal facilities are within the Free Port of Trieste and take up a total area of 28 hectares. In the northern part of the facilities, mainly general cargo transports and logistic services are being handled. The new heart of the terminal is emerging in the southern part: the newly developed area will start operations in the first quarter of 2021 and is designed to handle container and RoRo traffic. The capacity of the PLT terminal will then comprise a total of approximately 300,000 TEU (standard containers), 90,000 RoRo units and 700,000 tonnes of general cargo. There is also the option to significantly expand terminal capacity through additional adjacent areas.

The strategically relevant position of the Port of Trieste on the Adriatic also allows for excellent development opportunities in hinterland transport. The PLT terminal has its own rail connection. The HHLA rail subsidiary Metrans already connects the Port of Trieste with its European intermodal network.

The transaction is subject to various conditions precedent and is expected to close in January 2021.

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Maritime

Sea Machines and Metal Shark to supply USCG R&D center with new autonomous vessel

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Sea Machines and Metal Shark to supply USCG R&D center with new autonomous vessel. Image: Sea Machines Robotics
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Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics announces today that it has partnered with shipbuilder Metal Shark Boats, of Jeanerette, Louisiana, to supply the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)’s Research and Development Center with a new Sharktech 29 Defiant vessel for the purposes of testing and evaluating the capabilities of available autonomous vessel technology.

The 29-foot, welded-aluminum monohull pilothouse vessel comes equipped with the Sea Machines SM300 autonomous-command and remote-helm control technology, offering the USCG a full range of advanced capabilities – including transit autonomy, collaborative autonomy, collision avoidance and remote vessel monitoring.

The RDC helps transition innovative technologies and provides premier analysis and decision support to enhance operational performance across all Coast Guard missions. During demonstrations scheduled for October off the coast of Hawaii, the RDC team will test and evaluate the Sharktech vessel’s autonomous capabilities for their potential in supporting USCG surveillance, interdiction, patrol and other missions. Following the Hawaii demonstrations, the autonomous vessel will be returned to the RDC’s New London facility, where it will be used in additional testing to investigate application to various Coast Guard missions.

“As the premier USCG facility performing research, development, test and evaluation in support of the service’s major missions, the RDC team is eager to observe Sea Machines’ system in action,” said USCG’s Derek Meier, assistant demonstration director. “The exercises will ultimately help us determine how, when, and if this innovative technology can be used to support personnel who are executing a variety of Coast Guard activities.”

“Sea Machines is proud to actively support government agencies across a variety of projects and to expand that support to the Department of Homeland Security with this important demonstration being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Sea Machines’ Phil Bourque, director, sales. “Our systems are being rapidly adopted by government and commercial operators alike, offering increases in on-water productivity and predictability, while reducing operational risk.”

“Since the launch of our Sharktech Autonomous Vessels division in 2018 we have been working to position Metal Shark for the autonomy revolution,” said Metal Shark’s CEO Chris Allard. “We are committed to the advancement of autonomous technology, through our relationships with leading autonomy suppliers as well as through our own R&D, and we are engaged with multiple customers, from the USCG, the Department of Defense and commercial operators. With this latest delivery, Metal Shark is proud to play a role in the Coast Guard’s autonomous technology R&D efforts.”

In 2019, Sea Machines partnered with Metal Shark to make available the Sharktech 29 Defiant vessel to commercial markets, under Metal Shark’s stock boat program. Most recently, in July, Sea Machines partnered with Huntington Ingalls Industries to accelerate the deployment of self-piloting technologies in the rising market of unmanned naval boats and ships.

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