Sihanoukville port’s throughput to dip to 15 percent in 2019, meets five-year average

Sok Chan

Revenue for Cambodia’s only deep-sea port is likely to grow with its new container terminal construction while boosting the economy amid robust development

Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) projects a lower container throughput at 15 percent for this financial year ending December 31, 2019 (FY19), in line with its five-year 15 percent average. Growth was 17 percent in FY18.

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A majority of its 541,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) handled in FY18 are construction materials and second-hand automotive imports from China, US and Korea, says deputy general-director Thay Rithy.

Between January and February 2019, 87,664 TEUs passed through its port, up 4.6 percent from the corresponding period last year, with 45,061 containers imported and 42,603 containers exported. Imported loads of construction materials, automotive, and iron grew 2.15 percent while export comprising rice to European Union and China climbed 7.33 percent from the first two months last year.

The state-owned port facing Gulf of Thailand is able to handle container shipments of about 700,000 TEUs, and its container terminal can accommodate 20,000-tonne vessels comprising 1,500 to 1,800 TEUs.

The planned expansion of its container terminal is expected to raise the port’s ability to handle more than one million TEUs by 2023, ultimately increasing vessel numbers and reducing ocean freight.

“The government will build a new container terminal since the current capacity is nearly full. At present, only 18 percent of the vessels in Asia-Pacific call at PAS. The new container terminal measures 350 meters long with 14.5 metres depth. It can accommodate 5,000 TEU container vessels.

“The new terminal enables us to receive more than 60,000 tonnes which is equivalent to some 93 percent of vessels operating in Asia-Pacific,” Rithy reiterates.

The $203 million project, with a concessional loan from Japan, begins in 2020 and is expected to be completed by 2023.

“We believe our deep-sea port and major trade gateway to the outside world will support economic growth by welcoming shipments in and out of the region,” says Rithy.

Last June, the port opened its $74 million Japan-funded multi-purpose terminal, which provides an additional 330 metres for larger ships with heavy load.

“We are able to load general cargos such as steel, construction material, and coal weighing between 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes, which is double the capacity of our older terminals. The multi-purpose terminal also handles passenger cruise ships beyond 8.5 metres,” Rithy says.

He adds that as the economy grows, the demand for machineries and raw material would rise and this would support the port’s revenue.

For FY18, its net profit soared 68.12 percent to $10.49 million from $6.24 million a year ago while revenue expanded 21.19 percent to $68.45 million versus $56.48 million in FY17. Cargo throughput, container throughput, and calling vessels rose by 22.08 percent, 17.70 percent and 11.90 percent, respectively, from 2017.

“We hope with big vessels docking here, sea transportation would become cheaper. Currently, small shipments are difficult to find. Hiring small ships are more expensive than big vessels,” Rithy adds.

The port records an average of 13 container shipments per week while its multi-purpose terminal sees an average of eight to 10 vessels a month.

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