Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd (BPHB) has rescheduled several of its major development projects for Bintulu Port, which has registered lower cargo throughput due to the economic slowdown.
Chief executive officer Datuk Mior Ahmad Baiti Mior Lub Ahmad said as there was no urgency to implement the proposed projects mooted two years ago, they have been rescheduled to 2018 and beyond.
The projects include the construction of a 400m general cargo wharf and 300m bulk fertilizer wharf, both planned for the 2nd Inner Harbour, the conversion of the 300m general cargo wharf for container operations, an additional petrochemical jetty and a petrochemical tank farm.
“We had earlier budgeted some RM200mil in capital expenditure (capex) between 2016 and 2018 to fund these proposed projects,” he added.
He said that by delaying the implementation period of the projects, this had much reduced BPHB’s capex for this year and 2017.
Bintulu Port’s total cargo throughput was down by 1.3% to 44.81 million tonnes last year from 45.4 million tonnes in 2014. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo handled dropped by 1.6% to 25.1 million tonnes from 25.5 million tonnes, while non-LNG cargo fell by 0.95% to 19.7 million tonnes from 19.9 million tonnes year-on-year. LNG cargo remains the backbone of Bintulu Port.
There was a sharp decline in containerised cargo – by 9.9% – as the number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled was down to 243,699 from 270,495 in 2014.
The decline was blamed on the lower export volume of timber-based products and the slow demand for aluminium and wax-based products.
However, the port recorded a 21% growth in dry bulk cargo to 4.11 million tonnes from 3.39 million tonnes in 2014, with the increase coming mainly from agricultural-based products like palm kernel, bulk fertilizers, granules urea, and the importation of raw materials for manufacturing industries in the Samalaju Industrial Park. Last year, the port handled more than 500,000 tonnes of palm kernel products.
Mior Ahmad expects continued growth in palm kernel cargo, going forward, as a new palm oil refinery owned by Borneo Edible Oils Sdn Bhd will come on stream in October this year. The new refinery has an annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes.
Subsidiary Biport Bulkers Sdn Bhd currently handles more than 90% of the export of Sarawak’s palm oil products. Last October, Bintulu Port completed a 120m barge berth facility that has boosted the turnaround time and reduced waiting time for palm oil vessels at the jetty.
The new facility has enhanced the efficiency in handling palm oil exports.
“In the first quarter this year, we have seen an encouraging increase in containerised cargo throughput, which went up by 13% as compared to the same period last year,” said Mior Ahmad.
He said Bintulu Port’s anchor customer, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), will increase the production capacity of LNG by 3.6 million tonnes per annum (current capacity is 25.7 million tonnes per annum) when the new LNG Train 9 is operational early next year. LNG demand from China has dropped but shipments to Japan and South Korea have increased.
On the Samalaju Industrial Port project, Mior Ahmad said the phase 1 development, which caters for handymax and handysize vessels, is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2017 and is slated for operations in April next year.
By then, energy-intensive industries like aluminium, ferrosilicon and manganese alloy smelters will shift the import of raw materials and the export of finished products from Bintulu Port to Samalaju Port, which is designed to serve the Samalaju industries.
The new port began interim operations two years ago, providing two barge berths and a ro-ro ramp.
For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2015, BPHB posted a group pre-tax profit of RM168.5mil, which was 12.5% lower than the RM192.6mil in financial year 2014, as revenue fell marginally to RM547mil from RM552mil previously.
Source: Hellenic Shipping News