Six Bintulu Port projects planned

KUCHING: Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd (BPHB) plans to invest RM550mil in six major port development projects to reduce its dependency on liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo.

The six projects are the conversion of an existing 300m general cargo wharf for container operations, a proposed 300m bulk fertiliser wharf at the second inner harbour, a proposed 150m small barge berth at the edible oil terminal, LNG berth No 4, a proposed 400m general cargo wharf and the development of a supply base terminal, both also at the second inner harbour.

Chief executive officer Datuk Mior Ahmad Baiti Mior Lub Ahmad said the proposed 400m general cargo wharf would be the first of the six projects to be undertaken in 2017.

“This will be followed by the conversion of the general cargo wharf to container operations and other projects,” he said after the company’s AGM here yesterday.

Mior Ahmad said the new projects would be financed by the company’s internally generated funds and bank borrowings.

Last year, Bintulu Port increased its total cargo throughput by 3.6% to 45.4 million tonnes, with LNG cargo contributing 25.48 million tonnes and non-LNG cargo 19.9 million tonnes. Petroliam Nasional Bhd will add a further 3.6 million tonnes per annum to the existing 25.7-million-tonne production capacity when its new LNG Train project due for completion this year is operational by early-2016.

According to Mior Ahmad, the Bintulu International Container Terminal (BICT), which handled 270,495 twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs last year, has posted an annual growth of 7.3% in container cargo in the past five years.

BICT, the most well-equipped container terminal in Sabah and Sarawak, is now supported by the new container terminal operating system, which is widely used by terminal operators around the world.

Mior Ahmad said BICT is expected to see an increase in its local base container and transhipment volume from Sabah and Sarawak this year.

He said Bintulu Port has been serving an increasing number of oil and gas (O&G) customers due to the sector’s rapid growth, spurred by an increase in exploration and production activities within Sarawak waters.

“We are working hand in hand with prominent O&G players for the provision of long-term support base services at Bintulu Port.”

Mior Ahmad said the federal government had approved in principle to extend the concession period for operator Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd for a further 30 years until 2052.

“The details of the new terms require a lot of finalisation on mutually acceptable terms by the parties concerned. We are looking to settle all the salient terms and conditions by this year.”

It is understood that under the current concession agreement, Bintulu Port is paying about RM110mil in lease rental to Bintulu Port Authority.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2014, the BPHB group recorded a total operating revenue of RM552.3mil and a pre-tax profit of RM192.6mil.