APM Terminals interested in potential Istanbul terminal

APM Terminals interested in potential Istanbul terminal
Istanbul is Turkey's largest city with a population of over 14 million Credit: Bentom Wyemji

Container terminal operating company, APM Terminals, are interested in opening a facility in Istanbul in Turkey’s Marmara region.

Although, no specific timeframe has been mentioned, Turkey’s “sizeable” economic growth compared to the rest of Europe plus its “low container penetration ratio” are proving attractive to the multinational company.

Turkish container volumes are growing at twice the speed of GDP, which grew by 4.0% in 2013, and APM Terminals are currently “analysing the markets to determine the preferred strategy to enter”.

Mogens Wolf Larsen, managing director of APM Terminals’ Izmir operations, told CM: “Marmara is interesting because Istanbul accounts for approximately 60% of the total Turkey volumes, so there is scale to have a large operation. The Istanbul market is also served by many of APM Terminals’ 60 global shipping line customers, so we would like to be able to also provide them with our services in Istanbul.”

He continued: “The potential comes from the large scale of the market and the fact that Turkey is one of the few countries in Europe which still provides sizable GDP growth and in addition has a low container penetration ratio, so there is potential to containerise more of the overall export and import cargo.”

He added that APM Terminals expects the first phase of the Aegean Gateway Terminal (AGT) in the Aliaga peninsula near Izmir in western Turkey to be constructed by the end of 2015.

By the end of 2016 when the terminal should be completed, it will provide a dedicated 700 m container berth with 16 m depth alongside and a total capacity of 1.3m teu.

Larsen said: “The 16 m depth alongside will enable shipping lines to call Izmir directly with large vessels on their Asia services, which cannot be done today where the market is served through inefficient and expensive feeder vessels through relays elsewhere in the Mediterranean.”

AGT’s location is close to Izmir, the country’s second largest industrial city, which currently has a market utilisation of 90% and therefore, may benefit from increased capacity.

There will also be the capacity to handle around 1m tonnes of general cargo through a dedicated general cargo berth.

The Hague-based firm will pay annual fees to Turkey’s largest petrochemicals maker Petkim Petrokimya Holding AS while operating the port’s facilities for 28 years, which are located next to a Petkim plant.

Petkim, owned by Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company, and APM Terminals will invest US$450m in the port while global investment bank, Goldman Sachs, bought a 30% stake in the port for US$250m this year.

Larsen does not expect to see much collaboration between the Izmir project and the potential new facility in Istanbul, adding: “They would address separate markets but we would expect that some shipping lines who call both Izmir and Istanbul on the same string would see the benefit of using the same operator in these two key markets.”