Over the past decades, the Abu Dhabi leadership has made considerable progress in the development of the emirate’s non-oil industry sector in line with Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030, acknowledging the significant expected growth of global trade in the years to come.
More than 90% of global trade is carried by sea. Over the next 20 years this is predicted to increase from roughly nine billion tonnes each year to between 19-24 billion tonnes annually.
Historically, the bulk of global trade has moved between Asia and Europe, but changing global economics means that that this dominant flow is changing. Moving forward, analysts predict that the majority of trade will be intra-Asia and between Asia and the Middle East.
“As the changing nature of global trade from west to east becomes more and more apparent, the Middle East will be positioned as one of the top 20 global trade lanes over the next two decades. We are addressing this shift by transforming Abu Dhabi into one of the biggest international maritime hubs, ideally placed to maximize the opportunities offered by a global market”, says Capt. Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO, Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC).
Headquartered in the north eastern part of the emirate – next to Zayed Port, ADPC – a fully government owned organisation – was created in 2006 as part of the restructuring of the ports sector in Abu Dhabi and was given management control and regulatory enforcement power over all of the non-oil commercial and leisure ports.
The goal behind the restructuring of Abu Dhabi’s ports sector is to build sustainable industries and to diversify the economy while making it less dependent on finite resources – one of the main pillars of the “Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030”.
As such, ADPC currently manages, operates, invests and develops a total of nine ports, located in and around the city, as well as the western region of Abu Dhabi and Kizad.
ADPC’s flagship port is Khalifa Port, the first semi-automated port in the GCC region. The port was officially inaugurated on 12 December 2012 by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Located in Taweelah, halfway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Khalifa Port features a state of the art container terminal, operated by Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT), which was built to accommodate all of the container traffic from Zayed Port. The port also handles the increasing volumes of general import and export cargo generated by the adjacent Kizad trade and logistics zone.
“In 2005, the Abu Dhabi leadership realized that given the projected economic growth, Zayed Port would reach full capacity by 2011. So, there was an urgent need for a new modern port with space to grow in order to support the leadership’s long term vision of strong and sustainable economic prosperity”, Al Shamisi explains.
Today, Khalifa Port is the gateway to Abu Dhabi and a prime example of cutting edge maritime infrastructure in line with international standards and best practices. The port features nine of the world’s largest ship-to-shore quay cranes, 42 automated stacking cranes, 20 straddle carriers and comprehensive ICT services.
With its four kilometers quay wall, 16.5 meters draft, a channel length of 11.5 kilometers and a channel width of 250 meters, Khalifa Port can accommodate the biggest ships sailing the world’s oceans today.
Owned by ADPC, the port is being developed in stages as industry demand increases. The port is now in its first development phase and can handle and annual capacity of 2 million TEUs and 12 million tons of general cargo. When all development phases are completed, Khalifa Port is expected to further increase its capacity for container volumes to 15 million TEUs and 35 million tons of general cargo per year.
“The container port demand in the Middle East alone is forecast to grow by 45-64% to 53-60 million TEUs until 2020. With this in mind, Khalifa Port marks a crucial milestone in the development of Abu Dhabi’s maritime landscape”, says Al Shamisi, and continues:
“We are very proud to say that the port has already shown some significant achievements and demonstrated its great potential to cater for the massive expected growth in the region’s seaborne trade.”
Just this week, ADT announced that the container operations have now hit the 2m TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit – ie. container) milestone and the Khalifa Port container operations now rank number five in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region with regards to port productivity, according to a recent report published by the Journal of Commerce (JOC).
At present, ADT’s container terminal operation is achieving a crane productivity of no less than 34 gross moves per hour (gmph), which marks an increase of 36% since September 2012, when the port commenced operations and showed an overall crane productivity of 25 gmph.
Each month the port’s productivity increases, with a record number of containers handled in September, a total of 115,887 TEUs, the highest number of containers ever handled in a single month. Compared to September 2013, last month’s record number shows a year on year increase of more than 33%.
In addition, in the first nine months of this year, the throughput of Khalifa Port’s container terminal, operated by ADT, reached 761,366 TEUs which is an increase of around 24% compared with the same period in 2013, when the port had a throughput of 615,831 TEUs.
Alongside its container traffic, Khalifa Port handled also over three million tonnes of general and bulk cargo in Q3 2014.
Two of the many reasons behind the port’s expanding import and export activities are the rising number of shipping lines being served at the port (currently 20) and the growing number of direct links to destination ports around the globe (currently 52), including the vitally important global hub port destinations of Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas on the Straits of Malacca, Hong Kong and Shenzhen in the Pearl River Delta, Port Said at Suez Canal, and Algeciras and Tangiers at the Straits of Gibraltar.
Another reason is the fast development progress of the Kizad trade and logistics zone which lies in close proximity to ADPC’s flagship port. Both, Khalifa Port and Kizad, are intrinsically linked and provide excellent supply chain connections and efficiencies for the emirate’s import and export businesses.
At present, 62 national and international investors have chosen Kizad as their production or logistics base and leased a total of 11 million sq m of land to set up their facilities, covering an overall investment of more than USD 13 billion (AED 47,75 billion).
Once these investors are fully operational, Khalifa Port’s throughput is expected to further increase by what is currently estimated to be an initial annual amount of over 900,000 tonnes of imported and exported Kizad goods.
Whether shipping lines, freight forwarders or Kizad investors – Khalifa Port’s growing customer base confirms the port’s rising importance in the regional and international maritime landscape.
Apart from its state-of-the-art infrastructure and increasing production capacity, the port offers market access to an estimated 4.5 billion people within four time zones and an excellent intermodal transportation network via road, air and soon rail, once Etihad Rail becomes operational in 2015.
Furthermore, ADPC has put a strong focus on comprehensive and modern service offerings to provide customers with the most time and cost effective operations. Last year, ADPC introduced the “e-Pass”, an electronic pass, which significantly reduces processing and waiting times for customers entering and exiting Khalifa Port.
The pass offers customers the opportunity to register and submit documents online. It also offers different gate pass applications, online status tracking and a dedicated mobile application, adding further long-term value to ADPC’s flagship port.
Last but not least, at the beginning of commercial operations, ADPC instigated the use of RFID (radio frequency ID) tags for the freight trucks using the port, to make their entry to and exit more convenient and enabling quicker turnaround times.
Khalifa Port is supporting the growing import and export needs of the emirate’s business community, and with a steady schedule for development in line with the industry’s requirements, Khalifa Port is establishing itself locally and internationally as the gateway to the emirate, today and for the future.
“We are very proud of what we have accomplished since Khalifa Port commenced operations in September 2012. Khalifa Port and Kizad are cornerstones of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a vision that is shared with us by the great Abu Dhabi leadership who has been guiding us on our mission to diversify the emirate’s economy.
“Today, Khalifa Port is one of the fastest growing ports in the region and is designed to cater for the massive expected seaborne trade in the years to come. As the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is highlighting the need for the global fleet to increase, it is a must for countries like the UAE to further develop their maritime infrastructure to be able to accommodate the growing number of vessels”, Al Shamisi concludes.