Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Talks to push London Gateway project forward


THE Port of London Authority and DP World are in detailed discussions about ways to push the London Gateway container terminal development forward, despite the economic downturn.
Options include reducing the depth of the planned dredge and changing the phases of development, said PLA chief executive Richard Everitt.
Work on the giant container port and logistics park development at the Shell Haven site on the Thames had been due to get under way early this year but the project stalled as DP World began re-examining its major investment projects.
“The positive is that despite all of the difficulties, there is a real desire to get going on this,” Mr Everitt said. “But of course, it has to make sense economically and a lot of work is going on to try to achieve that objective. I think we all realise that this is only going to happen if we can find ways of doing things at minimal cost to get started. I think ways will be found and I think the UK needs to find the ways.”
DP is working to ensure the cost of the project “is tailored to the world we are in now rather than six months ago”, he added.
“This market is certainly advantageous in terms of construction costs. You just look at each and every element and we are working with them on the strategy.”
The dredging of the channel and berth pockets is directly linked to the land reclamation required for the new port. “You can’t do the dredge until you need the material and you can’t to the building until you are doing the dredge,” Mr Everitt said.
The PLA has done some “very interesting, innovative work” with DP on the dredging plans, he said. This included the possibility of reducing the depth.
“We are looking at dynamic under keel clearance, for example. Each cubic metre of material you take out costs money. It depends what tidal window you are prepared to work to – of course it has to be competitive.”
A spokesman for DP World said: “We announced to the market in January that all new DP World development and expansions were under review and once this review is complete, there will be fresh information made available.”
DP World is due to make a new trading announcement to the market tomorrow.
The London Gateway project, to be built in phases, provides for a total 2,700 m of container quay with depth alongside of 17 m and total annual capacity of 3.5m teu when complete.
Mr Everitt said the development was a unique opportunity. “This is about a major logistics park as well as a port. If it was just replicating what you have somewhere else, it would not be so attractive. But this is a very different scenario; an integrated major logistics park with boxes not more than a few hundred yards away.
“When you consider the environment, and cutting down road miles and trade miles, that is a hugely attractive proposition, even in today’s world.”

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