Bintulu Port embarks on RM600mil expansion


Ten new palm oil storage tanks to be constructed

KUCHING: Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd (BPHB) is embarking on a RM600mil expansion programme to boost Bintulu Port’s cargo handling capacity.

Chief executive officer Mior Ahmad Baiti Mior Lub Ahmad said the expansion of the container terminal, which started seven months ago, would raise annual handling capacity by 250,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) to 650,000 TEUs when completed next year.

Also under implementation is the expansion of the multi-purpose terminal for dry bulk cargo.

Mior Ahmad said the construction of the proposed RM14.9mil container freight station was awarded last week.

To be awarded soon was a contract to build 10 new storage tanks for palm oil, he said. The proposed RM25mil project will boost storage capacity by 26,000 tonnes from 76,000 tonnes.

Also in the pipeline are the proposed development of 19.1ha for port operation buildings and yard and an additional berth for the edible oil terminal.

Other planned projects included the conversion of the existing 200m general cargo wharf into a containerised cargo wharf and the purchase of more cargo handling equipment, Mior Ahmad said after the company AGM yesterday.

“All these projects are expected to be completed by 2011,” he said.

Chairman Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin said in a statement that the company would expand the liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities if the need arose.

“Currently, the LNG segment contributes 78% to the group’s total operating revenue,” he said, adding that in the next five years, LNG cargo would account for 60% of operating revenue.

Mior Ahmad said LNG handling contributed about RM330mil to revenue last year while containerised cargo and palm oil accounted for some RM33mil and RM22mil respectively.

BPHB recorded group operating revenue of RM448.8mil for the year ended Dec 31, up by RM31.6mil from 2007. Group pre-tax profit jumped to RM205.9mil against RM189.2mil in 2007.

Statistics have shown that container volume grew by over 15% to 290,167 TEUs last year from 251,800 TEUs in 2007.

Mior Ahmad said the economic slowdown had adversely affected Bintulu Port’s container cargo traffic, which dropped by about 30% for the first three months of this year against the same period last year.

However, he said there were positive signs that the situation had steadily improved.

“For dry bulk fertiliser there was zero import in the first quarter this year. But there are two shipments coming in this month,’’ he added.

LNG export volume, however, had sustained, he said.

He said 15 shipping lines (container cargo) were now calling at Bintulu Port.

By JACK WONG

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