Bintulu Port aims to cut dependency on LNG business via new projects

Busy yard: Containers dotting the landscape of one of Bintulu Port's terminals.

Busy yard: Containers dotting the landscape of one of Bintulu Port's terminals.

KUCHING: Bintulu Port has identified several new projects over the next few years to further develop its non-liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo sector.

Specific focus will be given to the development of the container, dry bulk, palm oil as well as oil and gas (O&G) sectors in line with efforts undertaken to reduce the dependency on LNG cargo business, according to Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, chairman of port operator Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd (BPHB).

He said these identified new projects would include the conversion of 300m general cargo wharf for container operation, construction of a 300m bulk fertiliser wharf at the second inner harbour, and construction of a 150m small barge berth at the edible oil terminal.

Also planned is a 400m general cargo wharf at the second inner harbour with facilities including a warehouse and open yard for paper products, acacia, logs and other general cargo.

A supply base terminal will also be developed at the second inner harbour.

Ali said a new berth, the fourth, would be built to handle LNG cargo.

“Petronas has embarked on a new LNG Train that will add another 3.6 million tonnes per annum to the existing 25.7 million tonnes (yearly) production capacity. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2015 and operational by early 2016,” he said in the company’s 2013 Annual Report.

At present, Malaysia is the world’s next largest LNG exporter behind Qatar.

Last year, Bintulu Port’s total cargo throughput comprised 58% LNG and 42% non-LNG goods. Revenue generated from the LNG sector was RM365.1mil versus RM164.7mil from non-LNG sector.

Ali said the group would reposition itself to serve industries in Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) via the provision of port services and facilities, including terminal operation and management.

Wholly-owned subsidiary Samalaju Industrial Port Sdn Bhd will commence the operation of its interim port facilities this month.

The new port, which is particularly designed to serve energy- intensive industries in Samalaju Industral Park, is expected to be fully operational by mid-2016.

BPHB chief executive officer Datuk Mior Ahmad Baiti Mior Lub Ahmad said the interim port facilities would include two barge berths and one roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) ramp.

“This interim phase will allow the plant operators at Samalaju Industrial Park to import their raw materials or project cargo using barges or smaller size vessels directly to Samalaju. Cargo can also be exported using barges to Bintulu Port for transhipment through this interim facilities,” he added.

Mior Ahmad said construction works for the main port, which caters for handmax and handysize vessels, was progressing as planned.

He also mentioned that Bintulu Port had been approached by O&G players to use its base as their support facility and service provider for exploration and production operations.

“We are committed to develop a dedicated terminal or supply base to serve the growing demand from offshore supply vessels, passenger boats and their related operations.”

According to Mior Ahmad, Bintulu International Container Terminal operated by Bintulu Port intends to construct an additional berth and a container storage yard with new handling equipment to increase its capacity from the current 400,000 TEUs* to 650,000 TEUs annually.

(*Twenty-foot equivalent unit, a measure used for capacity in container transportation.)

“Bintulu Ports’s edible oil terminal, through Biport Bulkers Sdn Bhd, is increasing its capacity through the development of additional 25 units of storage tanks in line with the increasing palm oil activities in Sarawak.

“This will give additional 53,000 tonnes of storage capacity to the current 101,600-tonne capacity, and is scheduled to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2014,” he added.

Biport Bulkers’ throughput registered a 9.3% increase to 3.2 million tonnes last year from 2.9 million tonnes in 2012 due to higher demand for crude palm oil (CPO) and palm oil products — namely RBD (refined, bleached and deodorised) olein and RBD stearine — by importing countries.

Mior Ahmad said total cargo throughput handled by Bintulu Port rose by 6.4% to 43.8 million tonnes from 41.2 million tonnes in 2012.

LNG cargo jumped by 8.3% to 25.5 million tonnes while non-LNG cargo climbed by nearly 4% to 18.3 million tonnes.

However, break bulk cargo volume handled fell by 33%, due to the decline in project cargo for Samalaju Industrial Park.

Container throughput increased by 5.7% to 250,353 TEUs from 231,053 TEUs in 2012, contributed by export cargo from SCORE industries and increase in transhipment cargo.