The global engineering, construction, and project management company Bechtel said Monday it has created a design for ports in Africa intended to reshape the shipping industry there.
The design, which Bechtel dubs the Multi-User Offshore Hub, is designed for two or more users and consists of an offshore terminal arrangement and docking system that can accommodate oceangoing vessels and barges.
“The Multi-User Offshore Hub has the potential to open new market opportunities for African ports by significantly increasing capacity and substantially reducing port construction and operation costs,’ Bechtel said in a statement.
The company said the design incorporates a country's existing transport modes, such as rail and river barges. Bechtel is currently identifying suitable sites in both East and West Africa.
"As existing African ports become more and more congested, increased capacity is an urgent need for both the import of consumer goods and the export of minerals,” said Marco Pluijm, Bechtel's senior ports specialist, who unveiled the concept at the African Ports Evolution 2013 Forum in Cape Town. “Each requires out-of-the-box solutions to handle as many containers as efficiently as possible and to speed the provision of new mineral export facilities to enable the region to develop its economy.
"This solution could provide a reduction of up to 40 percent in port infrastructure construction costs compared with building a traditional port and up to 50 percent in operational cost savings as the hub can handle much larger Capesize and Valemax vessels, which result in economies of scale," he added.
Separately, Bechtel is leading a three-year joint-industry research project to improve the safety of mooring large cargo ships off the coast of West Africa. - Eric Johnson