Israel’s Port of Ashdod is increasing the height of two ship-to-shore (STS) cranes at a cost of €8m (US$9.14m) in preparation for new competition.
The work was commissioned by the facility’s operator, the Ashdod Port Company, with the cranes being raised by 9 m to 44 m, making them the highest STS cranes in Israel, and having their reach extended by 5.5 m to 60.5 m.
The decision to invest in an upgrade programme is an attempt to prepare for the competition that the Port of Ashdod will face when the new, privately-owned Southport Terminal opens in Ashdod in 2021.
Isaac Blumenthal, Ashdod Port Company CEO, said: “The sea ports are undergoing a dramatic revolution. Our preparations for the era of competition will benefit Ashdod Port and its customers.
“The decision to open the ports industry to competition and to build an additional port in Ashdod is not just a change in regulation. This is a change to the entire situation.”
Once complete the cranes will be able to work 14,000 teu ships with a width of 20 containers and a height of nine containers.
The work will be completed by Kalmar, who has performed similar work at the Spain’s Port of Valencia and Belgium’s Port of Antwerp. The first crane will be ready for operation at the end of June, 2018.
Ashdod has also deepened its platforms and leased new tugboats to handle larger vessels.
Blumenthal: “We are taking action according to the company’s strategic plan as part of the preparation for the era of competition.
“These investments are required for the arrival of megaships and international lines of services, to meet the needs of Israeli importers and exporters who do business with the Far East.”
In recent months the port has also welcomed automated gates, an appointment scheduling system and a simulator for training crane operators in a technological drive to prepare for the new competition.
Blumenthal said: “We at Ashdod Port Company prefer to consider the decision to change the situation in the ports sector and to develop it for competition as an opportunity to take improve the work at the port from a technological, operational and financial standpoint.”
The Southport Terminal will open at around the same time that another privately-run terminal, the Bayport Terminal, opens near the country’s other state-owned port, Haifa.
Southport will be operated by Terminal Investment Limited (TIL), while Bayport will be operated by the Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG).
Both will be considerably larger than their state-backed counterparts, being able to handle 18,000 teu vessels compared to Ashdod’s and Haifa’s limit of 14,000 teu vessels.
Blumenthal said: “Faced with the changing landscape we at Ashdod Port Company knew how to prepare ourselves with long-term strategic planning.
“We built a strategic plan in which we determined the goals and targets that will put us in the best position to takeoff when the market opens for competition.”