Bintulu Port on expansion mode

KUCHING: Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd (BPHB) will expand its debonded area at Bintulu Port to increase capacity for additional petroleum arrangement contractors (PACs) expected.

Approval for the expansion project of the existing debonded area was received last July and the additional capacity to be created aims to attract more PACs to Bintulu Port, according to group chief executive officer Datuk Mohammad Medan Abdullah.

BPHB expects demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) to remain healthy following the increase in exploration activities in the country.

This is in consideration of Petroliam National Bhd (PETRONAS) and its production-sharing contractors recording a total of 10 hydrocarbon discoveries in Malaysia in 2022, eight of which were discoveries made of Sarawak.

Mohammad Medan said BPHB posted a 8.5% rise in LNG throughput to about 24.89 million tonnes last year from 22.95 million tonnes in 2021.

“The Russia-Ukraine conflict caused upward pressure on LNG prices, which led to a decline in demand from Asian import markets, such as China, and resulted in Japan reclaiming its spot as the world’s largest LNG buyer.

“While this impacted the volume of our LNG ISO tank shipments for the year, it also enabled us to record an increase in our annual exports of LNG to Japan,” he explained in the company’s 2022 annual report.

BPHB’s wholly-owned subsidiary Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd operates East Asia’s largest LNG export terminal with a capacity of 34 million tonnes per annum.

“With our standing as the first Asean port operator to bulk export LNG in International Organisation for Standardisation or ISO tanks, we have once again racked up another LNG industry first.

“In a joint venture with Tiger Gas, BPSB has commissioned the first dual-fuelled LNG ISO tank carrier in the world. The MV Tiger Bintulu commenced its maiden voyage from Bintulu Port in July (2022) with 400 units of LNG ISO tanks,” said Mohammad Medan.

He added all the port operator’s current agreements with major oil and gas players were successfully extended, along with contracts for gassing up and cooling down and bunkering services as well as sub-lease agreements.

Reviewing the performance of BPHB’s wholly-owned unit, BiPort Bulkers Sdn Bhd (BBSB), he said during the year under review, it commenced the operation of additional four new export lines and increased its handling capacity to 17 lines from 13 lines.

The export lines were expanded within the Palm Oil Northern 1 and Palm Oil Southern berthing docks.

Partly thanks to this capacity expansion, BBSB finally passed the 50 million tonnes milestone for overall lifetime inward throughput last October.

“BBSB also made progress in the East Malaysia Crude Palm Oil Futures contracts as the team successfully completed its first port tank installation’s physical delivery of 10 contracts, representing 250 tonnes of crude palm oil,” he added.

BBSB is Malaysia’s largest palm oil products exporting terminal entrusted to manage 24% of the country’s palm oil exports.

Going forward, Mohammad Medan said from a business outlook perspective BPHB is excited about the prospects offered by three memoranda of understanding (MoUs) its units signed with different companies last year.

One of the MoUs inked was between BPSB with Sarawak Shell Bhd and PTT Exploration and Production Public Co Ltd to collaborate on the storage and handling of sulphur at Bintulu Port.

A second tripartite MoU between Bintulu Port Authority, BPSB and Sarawak Petchem Sdn Bhd is for the establishment and operation of a methanol jetty, which will help Bintulu Port to diversify its liquid cargo business from 2024 onwards.

A third MoU was between Samalaju Industrial Port Sdn Bhd (SIPSB) and ZR Industrial Group Sdn Bhd, which is currently developing an integrated steel plant in Samalaju Industrial Park.

SIPSB operates the Samalaju Industrial Port, which was designed and built to handle the incoming and outgoing cargo for the Samalaju Industrial Park, which caters mainly to energy intensive industries like aluminium smelters and ferroalloys.

According to Mohammad Medan, SIPSB recorded a more than 10-fold increase in containers throughput to nearly 8,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2022 from 724 TEUs in 2021).

BPSB, on the other hand, recorded container throughput of 364,169 TEUs in 2022 against 355,700 TEUs in 2021.

In 2022, he said BPSB was awarded a new contract by Darussalam Pilotage Services for the provision of pilotage services for one year.

Following the signing of an interim agreement between BPSB with Bintulu Port Authority and Transport Ministry for six months in November 2022, he said BPSB is still in on-going discussions on the extension of its long-term concession agreement for Bintulu Port.

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