Container traffic at Napier port up
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 | 00:00
Cargo passing through the Port of Napier jumped 10 per cent in the December quarter – to more than 913,000 tonnes – and should receive a further boost this year as cargo is diverted from strike-hit Port of Auckland.
The Napier port also reported container traffic had risen more than 9 per cent in the quarter, excluding transhipment of containers. That indicated the economy was "performing very well in Hawke's Bay and lower North Island" and Port of Napier chief executive Garth Cowie suspected export momentum was picking up.
Port profits for the quarter were up 10.5 per cent to almost $2.76 million before tax, from $2.5m in the same period last year.
Wellington's Centreport profit result is due later today.
In the December quarter, export cargo volumes rose across the board in Napier, with logs and forestry products performing well, despite the rising New Zealand dollar. There was no sign of the trade slowing down, with larger companies ticking along "nicely", Cowie said. Forest products from logs to timber and pulp account for about 40 per cent of the export volume through Napier.
The increase in cargo was before Fonterra and shipping line decisions to redirect dairy exports to Napier after the industrial dispute at Port of Auckland, which started a three-week strike on Friday. The Napier port expected flow-on benefits from the dispute "at least in the short term" but was only just seeing extra trade.
"Obviously, the port is working aggressively to secure these gains long term," Cowie added.
It was too early to say how much of a lift the Auckland strike would give Napier for the year ahead.
In January, Fonterra said it would move its export shipments, worth $27m a week, from Auckland to Port of Tauranga and Port of Napier from the end of January, "till further notice".
Shipments of Fonterra products brought in $100,000 a week in revenue for Auckland's port. The 500-700 containers a week from Fonterra were to be shared between Napier and Tauranga, although Cowie would not say how much of that came to Napier.
In the past 12 months to December, Napier port handled more than 191,000 containers, (TEU 20 foot equivalent units), up 6 per cent on the previous yearand 200,000 tonnes of dairy products.
A recent Productivity Commission report on sea freight showed Port of Napier down the rankings for containers handled per hour by a crane, at 22.8 , compared with Auckland's 25.1. The top port is Tauranga with 34.8 containers an hour. Wellington handles 30.4 containers an hour.
Cowie said Napier port was moving on initiatives to lift crane and vessel loading rates but real productivity was "more than just the speed of loading containers".
Napier ran mobile cranes, while other ports ran gantry cranes, and work no longer stopped for smokos and meal breaks "to lift our productivity".
He noted Napier was the only port to have positive economic value added in the past four years.
Source: Fairfax New Zealand
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