Port Otago is bringing forward its recently consented channel
deepening programme - and is poised to decide on purchasing a
new $11 million tug from an overseas shipyard.
Dredging of the lower Otago Harbour, between Port Chalmers
and Taiaroa Head, would be undertaken about the same time
Tauranga's port is dredged, raising the prospect of the two
ports becoming the key hubs for the North Island and South
Lyttelton Port of Christchurch is still negotiating with
insurers over rebuilding its post-earthquake infrastructure.
Port Otago chairman Dave Faulkner yesterday told 100% port
owner, the Otago Regional Council, that its original stage
one dredging programme, under its Next Generation Project,
was initially to start within 5 to 10 years, but that was now
within a five-year time frame.
''Information around now suggests the larger ships will be
here from [between] zero to five years. This is an
opportunity for us to be getting on now,'' he said of channel
deepening to attract larger vessels.
About half the channel towards Taiaroa Head is already 14m
deep, with Port Otago at present considering whether to begin
dredging the other half to 13.5m, or deeper to 14m. Port
Otago has its own dredges.
Mr Faulkner was asked by ORC councillor Trevor Kempton if it
would be possible for Tauranga and Port Otago to form an
Mr Faulkner said ''shipping companies like to play one port
off the other. They go where the cargo is.''
On the question of Tauranga and Port Chalmers, Mr Faulkner
noted ships required maximum channel depths when coming into
New Zealand laden with imports, and again when leaving New
Zealand, even more heavily laden, with exports.
''It makes sense that they need deepwater ports, for imports
and exports, at this end,'' he said.
Port Otago remained in the top quartile of container handling
ports, having raised its rate slightly to 34.1 per hour,
which was attractive to shipping lines, enabling them to
achieve quicker vessel turnaround times, Mr Faulkner said.
Port Otago has picked up extra cargo by offering a round-trip
freight train service to Timaru, which is gaining impetus,
but Mr Faulkner did not expect the rebuilding of Lyttelton's
port to result in any Canterbury cargo making its way to Port
Given there were no growth expectations directly from
Canterbury, Mr Faulkner noted that during the past six months
''hinterland cargo'', generally meat, dairy and timber, was
up 15% for the period.
Port Otago had spent $3.7 million over five years obtaining
its dredging consents from the ORC for the next 25 years,
allowing it to remove up to 7.2 million cu m of spoil. The
stage one dredging was last December estimated by Port Otago
to cost between $5 million and $10 million.
Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunket said the 10-year-old
$8.5 million tug Otago had been built in Whangarei and he had
recently looked at options for building in New Zealand.
However, the economics and designs of overseas yards were
more attractive. Port Otago has two other 40-year-old tugs,
described as being ''past their use-by dates''.
''We've been to Singapore and Vietnam . . . tugs would be
more readily [available] off production lines,'' he said.
The specifications of a new tug were 24m long by 11.2m wide,
with a bollard pull of 68 tonnes, compared with Otago's
56-tonne bollard pull.
Mr Faulkner said the new tug was still subject to a final
decision by Port Otago's board in May, but he had told the
ORC councillors earlier it could be delivered by May 2014.