EghtesadOnline: Iranian commercial ports have the capacity to handle 246 million tons of cargo annually, Mohammad Rastad, the head of Ports and Maritime Organization, said on the sidelines of the First International Conference of Eurasian Economic Union.
“The capacity of the country’s northern ports stands at 30 million tons. By tapping into the capacity available in northern and southern ports, we will be able to promote commercial exchanges with the Central Asian states and other countries,” Rastad was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
About 90% of Iran's exports and imports are carried out through ports in the south and north with the respective capacity to handle 216 million tons and 30 million tons.
Referring to the launch of 11 infrastructure projects in Anzali Port in the northern Gilan Province on Tuesday, Rastad said, “The private sector has invested 800 billion rials [$3 million] in four out of these 11 projects. The remaining projects have been financed by the Ports and Maritime Organization; the organization’s investment in these projects stands at 900 billion rials [$3.4 million].”
Mohammad Reza Allahyar, a PMO official, said the organization plans to increase Iranian ports’ capacity to 630 million tons by the fiscal year ending March 2026.
Over $620m in Private Investment
The private sector in Iran has invested a total of 161.23 trillion rials ($622 million) in the country's ports under 333 contracts to date, IRNA reported in September.
A total of 3.57 trillion rials ($13.78 million) were invested by the private sector during the first quarter of the current year (March 20-June 20) for the development and maintenance of port infrastructures and equipment, IRNA reported.
The private sector also invested 2.83 trillion rials ($11 million) in Q1 under five contracts to enhance businesses.
The total investment history includes the development project of 30-million-ton oil docks in Shahid Rajaee Port in southern Hormozgan Province, which upon completion will increase the port’s exports of petroleum products by 30%.
Located 23 kilometers west of the port city of Bandar Abbas, the capital of Hormozgan, Shahid Rajaee Port is Iran’s biggest container port. Over half of Iran’s commercial trading is conducted via Shahid Rajaee. The port also accounts for over 85% of all container traffic.
“The construction of Shahid Rajaee Port’s new rail-oriented mineral terminal was one of the major projects whose contract was finalized last [Iranian] year [March 2019-20] between PMO and the private sector. The project is currently under study by the investors and the execution phase will begin this year,” Mohammad Rastad, the head of Ports and Maritime Organization, said recently.
Noting that the 33-year build–operate–transfer (BOT) project was worth 50 trillion rials ($193 million) when it was signed, the official said, “Once completed, the country’s exports of minerals and steel via the most important container port of the country [i.e., Shahid Rajaee Port] will improve considerably and in line with the country’s steel export targets.”
Ali Hassanzadeh, deputy head of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran, said the construction of Shahid Rajaee Port's new mechanized mineral terminal will allow vessels with a capacity of 150,000 tons to berth there.
He made the statement at a ceremony held for the signing of the contract between Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran and the private sector for the construction of the terminal last year, which is said to be the biggest in the region.
Currently, vessels with a capacity of 60,000 tons are able to berth at Shahid Rajaee Port.
This will be the second such terminal as Life Trade Promotion Company signed an agreement with Sistan-Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organization back in May 2018 to establish Iran’s first fully mechanized mineral export terminal in Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti Port.
“The establishment of the new terminal will decrease waiting time for vessels and increase ports’ productivity,” Hassanzadeh was quoted as saying by ILNA.
“The project has three construction phases and development of each phase takes three years covering 180 hectares of land, each with 60 hectares,” he added.
In addition, the project includes the establishment of a 15-megawatt power station.
The terminal is also expected to create 500 sustainable direct jobs. The final capacity of the terminal will reach 50 million tons per year upon the completion of the project.
Speaking with IRNA on the advantages of the new terminal, former director general of Hormozgan’s Ports and Maritime Organization, Allahmorad Afifipour, noted that the terminal will facilitate mineral exports and decrease transportation costs.
According to Afifipour, the capacity of Shahid Rajaee Port’s current terminal is currently 14 million tons per year.
Addressing the ceremony, the PMO chief told IRNA that the terminal will help resolve the current heavy port traffic and rise in steel demand, stressing that the terminal will speed up export as it is mechanized.
He noted that the new contract is a giant step for the development of ports’ capacities by attracting investment from the private sector.
Rastad also noted that the operational period of the contract is 33 years.
The new terminal is said to become the biggest mineral terminal in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman and will bring about a major development in Iran's mining industry, considering the country’s exceptional mineral capacity.
According to the head of Majlis Development Commission Mohammad Reza Rezaei-Kouchi, Shahid Rajaee Port has a 6% share in the region’s total container throughput per annum, ILNA reported.
The third phase of Shahid Rajaee Port expansion project is being carried at full-throttle with an investment of 12 trillion rials ($46 million), according to the newly-appointed director general of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organization.
“The project includes the construction of 1,400 meters of wharfs and 113 hectares of hinterland container area, and 4 million tons of dredging among many other infrastructural undertakings,” Alireza Mohammadi Karajiran was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
The completed project, said the official, will help increase the port’s nominal container throughput capacity from the current 6.3 million TEUs to 8.4 million TEUs (giving a 20% boost) and vessels with capacities as high as 18,400 TEUs weighing 185,000 DWT will be able to berth at the wharfs.
Mohammadi added that Shahid Rajaee Port has better prospects of elevating its ranking in the region.
150m-Ton Port in the Making in South
A new port will be established in eastern Hormozgan and parts of Makran Coast for improving Iran’s share in maritime transport.
“Phase I of this new port will come on stream in the year ending March 2033 with a capacity of 150 million tons. The construction of the new port will start within the next five years and the port will reach its full capacity in the year ending March 2046,” Allahyar was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Rastad earlier said the new port will be Iran's second oceanic port after Chabahar in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan and will accommodate large vessels, adding that the organization is focused on constructing a container port with a capacity of handling the region’s throughput without diminishing the share of other existing ports like Chabahar or Shahid Rajaee.
Yet, the facility could be designed to handle wholesale cargos and essential goods as well.
“We want the port to have easy and quick access to different transportation modes. With proper access to rail and road routes, the envisaged port could turn into the region’s transit and transshipment hub,” he said.
The strategic Makran region has attracted the attention of many Iranian decision-makers and military officials, particularly after Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei stressed the need for developing the region.
In 2014, in a meeting with high-ranking Navy commanders, Ayatollah Khamenei said the issue of developing the coasts of Makran is a major task and plans for that region should be carried out more rapidly.
The Leader called the region “an undiscovered treasure”. In 2008, he said Iran focused all of its attention on the Persian Gulf and ignored “our enormous wealth in the Sea of Oman”.
This body of water, he added, is “the backbone of the Persian Gulf and determines its fate”.
Makran is a semi-desert coastal strip stretched along southeastern Iran to Pakistan’s Balochistan and borders the coasts of Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman.
The Iranian part of Makran Coast, bordering the two southern provinces of Hormozgan and Sistan-Baluchestan, has been earmarked as a prime location for development, as its location makes it ideal for becoming a commercial hub in southern Iran.
The region has high potential for sea trade. It can provide Iran with access to the Indian Ocean and act as an outlet for landlocked countries in South and Central Asia. It can also be an alternative route to deliver goods to Iran, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz.
The Special Plan for Development of Makran Region includes three long-term horizons by 2020, 2030 and 2040.
The government has come up with a strategic plan for the development of Makran Coast, setting guidelines to achieve sustainable development of the region and benefit its native people while lowering social and environmental damage, as the area boasts a wide range of investment opportunities.
It estimates that development projects planned by different bodies, such as the ministries of agriculture, industries and roads, will increase the population of the region to one million by the end of 2020, by creating new jobs and making the region more habitable.
The plan assures fair distribution of businesses and population to prevent centralization. It also aims to create “endogenous development” as opposed to “exogenous development”.
Ro-Ro Shipping Services Launched in Amirabad Port
After a 10-year hiatus, a Ro-Ro (roll-on/roll-off) vehicle shipping service has been launched at the northern Amirabad Port, the largest port facility on the Caspian shore and the third largest port in Iran, Mohammad Ali Asl-Saeedipour, the director of Special Economic Zone of Amirabad, said.
“The Ro-RO ship is capable of carrying 30 cargo trailer between Amirabad and other ports of Caspian Sea as well as Kazakhstan’s Aktau Port,” he was quoted as saying by the news portal of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.
Ro-Ro ships are vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers and railroad cars, which are driven on and off the ship or use a platform vehicle, such as a self-propelled modular transporter.
The transport model has significant advantages, such as considerably lower travel time, speedy cargo handling and low costs that may also enable the diversification.
In recent months, Khazar Sea Shipping Lines Co., a subsidiary of Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, has launched regular weekly container transportation services between Iranian northern ports and Kazakhstan’s Aktau Port. The first route has been launched directly between Anzali Port and Aktau Port, and the second one leaves Anzali for Astara and then heads to its final destination in Aktau Port.
These two shipping lines have the transport capacity of up to 2,000 TEUs per month, ILNA reported.
Iranian Ports H1 Throughput
Iran’s 21 major commercial ports handled a total of 58.44 million tons of commodities during the first half of the current Iranian year (March 20-Sept. 21) to register a 25.4% decline compared with the similar period of last year.
According to figures published by the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran, non-oil goods accounted for close to 36.82 million tons of the total throughput, showing a 32.45% fall year-on-year.
The remaining 21.62 million tons pertained to oil products, indicating a 9.29% decline YOY.
Container loading and unloading decreased by 39.31% to stand at 640,604 TEUs.
The 21 ports under study include Iran’s southern ports of Abadan, Imam Khomeini, Bushehr, Khorramshahr, Genaveh, Bandar Lengeh, Chavibdeh, Arvandkenar, Charak and Dayyer located on the shores of the Persian Gulf, Shahid Rajaee, Shahid Bahonar, Qeshm and Tiab at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, Jask and Chabahar on the coasts of the Sea of Oman and the northern ports of Fereydounkenar, Noshahr, Astara, Amirabad and Anzali on the Caspian Sea shoreline.
A total of 25.55 million tons of commodities were exported from these ports and over 14.73 million tons were imported, registering a 30.53% and 8.42% decline respectively YOY.
Over 1.58 million tons of goods were transited through these ports during the same period, indicating a 35.37% decrease compared with the corresponding period of last year.
A total of 139.65 million tons of commodities were loaded and unloaded at the ports under review in the last Iranian year (March 2019-20) to register a meager rise of 0.17% compared with the corresponding period of last year.
Non-oil goods accounted for more than 95.48 million tons of the total throughput, showing a 0.08% year-on-year growth.
The remaining 44.16 million tons pertained to oil products, indicating a 0.7% increase YOY.
Around 69.65 million tons of commodities were exported from the ports under review and 31.15 million tons were imported during the period, showing a 10.28% and 13.92% growth respectively compared with the similar period of last year.