Manila-headquartered port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) has officially inaugurated the expansion of its Batumi International Container Terminal (BICT) on the Black Sea coast in Georgia. The expansion involves both the waterside and landside areas of the multipurpose terminal and is aimed at optimizing the handling of existing cargo flows and adding extra capacity to accommodate new business.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Georgia’s officials, senior executives from Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the terminal’s principal customer, and Hans-Ole Madsen, ICTSI Senior Vice President and Europe, Middle East and Africa Head.
Commenting on the event, Mr. Madsen said: “This new investment consolidates and expands BICT’s competitive position. A comprehensive dredging program, undertaken in cooperation with Batumi Sea Port, provides an 11.5m draught in the port’s fairway and alongside BICT’s quay line allowing easy access for feedermax vessels at the port and making it Georgia’s deepest draught port.”
Besides, on the landside, a new container freight station was set up, following the demand of local importers. It is equipped with a 180m rail track to facilitate cross-stuffing from containers to rail cars. Also, container and truck storage areas were expanded and a new two-lane gate complex was introduced at BICT.
Overall, the expansion project increases the terminal’s annual capacity up to 200,000 TEU.
The first weeks of 2019 demonstrate particular port development activities in Georgia. Apart from ICTSI in Batumi, another global port operator APM Terminals announced in January that it had submitted a conceptual design for expansion of the Poti Sea Port. The project involves a 14.5m water depth at the 700m quay wall and 25 hectares of dedicated land for the bulk operation for yard and covered storage facilities for various cargo types, including grain, ore, and minerals. Thus, when completed, the expanded terminal will be deeper than BICT.
Later, on 4 February, Georgia’s Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze announced that a new deep-sea terminal would be built in the port of Poti. The announcement was made during the signing of the agreement between the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Georgian-American transport company PACE Group in Tbilisi, whereby OPIC provides PACE Group with USD 50 mln for construction of a new terminal. It is said to have a designed capacity of 2.5 mln tons of bulk and general cargo, as well as 100,000 TEU for containerized cargoes. The total length of the berths will be 650m and the draught of about 12-15m.
PACE Group operates 8 berths owned by APM Terminals at Poti Sea Port but the OPIC-PACE project looks to be independent of the APMT’s plans.
And on top of all that, the Anaklia Deep Sea Port project, of which we wrote earlier, has been included by the EU in a new Indicative Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Investment Action Plan, developed by the European Commission together with the World Bank. The Plan identifies priority projects in Eastern Partnership countries and includes EUR 233 mln for financing Phase 2 of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port and EUR 100 mln for the construction of road and rail to the Anaklia port. These, however, are marked as long-term projects, with completion up to 2030.
In the meantime, Anaklia Development Consortium informed last September that the maritime construction works had commenced at the port.
But will there be enough cargo to fill all the port infrastructure under development? According to Georgia’s Ministry of Economics, the total national ports’ throughput in 11 months of 2018 was 412,000 TEU, which was 14% up from the 2017 y-o-y results.