An exporting alliance proposed by Fonterra and Silver Fern
Farms with the ports of Tauranga and Timaru may have some
ramifications for Port Otago.
Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms are operating the freight
management company Kotahi, undertaking to boost freight
through Tauranga and Timaru, and also the export freight
carried by major shipping line Maersk, which is Port Otago's
Port Otago operates a daily rail link to Timaru, in turn
picking up less than 10,000 TEUs (20ft container equivalents)
annually from South Canterbury. Last financial year Port
Otago handled a total 80,000 containers, while Timaru hopes
its numbers will return to 80,000.
Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunket said, when
contacted, a small number of containers out of Timaru was
likely to be affected, but Port Otago intended to keep the
daily rail service in operation.
''This won't be hugely significant for us.
''Any loss from Timaru in likely to see gains elsewhere ...
there's still growth in the Otago-Southland region, and extra
production capacity,'' Mr Plunket said.
He did not expect the volume of southern exports across Port
Chalmers wharves from Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms to be
affected by the freight alliance with Timaru.
Maersk indicated yesterday if Port of Tauranga goes ahead
with channel deepening, the first of the large 6500 TEU ships
could arrive in Tauranga in ''two to three years''.
Mr Plunket was asked if Port Chalmers would then become a
feeder port to Tauranga.
He said it was too early for ''speculation'' on that
happening, given the first 6500s could be at least three
Maersk Line managing director Gerard Morrison said, when
contacted, Kotahi's announcement yesterday ''will not have
any effect''on current Maersk calls to Port Chalmers.
On the question of Port Chalmers becoming a feeder port to
Tauranga, Mr Morrison also said it was ''too difficult'' and
too early to say if that scenario could develop.
''Customers tell us where to pick up their cargo,'' he said.
Mr Morrison said that before the end of the year, Maersk
expected to have 2900 TEU vessels calling at Timaru. Its
terminal will have an extra 52 vessels calling each year.
Mr Plunket said while this would give South Canterbury
exporters ''another option'', it would take some time for
them to consider the pricing and transit times, and whether
that service suited them.
Port Otago maintained four direct overseas services,
including a last-port-of-call service, which goes direct to
Singapore and Malaysia, Mr Plunket saidDCB International
director Mark Willis said the Kotahi freight commitments to
Tauranga, Timaru and Maersk were a ''bittersweet'' scenario
for Port Otago.
It was ''bitter'', in that Tauranga would attempt to get as
many containers as it could ''out of Timaru''.
However, it was ''sweet'' for Port Otago, in that it now had
the opportunity to get its planned dredging operations under
He emphasised that while Lyttelton was Port Otago's
competition, aside from its own dredging, it also had issues
of tides and also its overall rebuild to get under way.
For Timaru, the extra container work would be a ''game
changer'', as it was extending marshalling yards, getting a
new container crane and preparing for a workload boost.