Felicity Landon takes a closer look at new developments and opportunities in Tangier
Tangier is at the strategically best location of the maritime world, claims Marco Mignogna, president of the management board at Eurogate Tanger.
“It is at the crossroads of one of the most important world maritime corridors, linking the East with the West and vice versa. The main Far East-Europe trade lanes pass here, with the possibility of transhipment to North or South America, or South West Africa. Europe is within eyeshot, and Africa behind us.
“Secondly, we have the infrastructure and superstructure, suitable for the new ULCSs of more than 20,000 teu. Our terminals are very efficient, and you find all the maritime technical services (mooring, pilotage, towage). Last, but not least, the cost structure is very competitive.”
Eurogate Tanger handled 1.12m teu last year, which was a drop of 8.4% on 2015's volumes, but marked improvements were seen in the latter part of 2016.
“2016 was affected by low volumes in the first half of the year, due to a new network set up by one of our biggest customers; however, in the second half we increased our throughput substantially, thanks to new liner services connecting our terminal with Canada, the US Gulf and US East Coast,” says Mr Mignogna.
This year has been very good so far, he says, with double digit growth in the first quarter compared with the same period of 2016.
“Additionally, we have been selected by the newly founded THE Alliance as the West Med hub for its FE2 service (eastbound and westbound). The outlook is therefore positive, and our customers can take advantage of our excellent location directly at the Strait of Gibraltar and our high quality services.”
However, Eurogate is also conscious of the uncertainties of the market, following last year's unprecedented wave of consolidation among shipping lines. “We don't know what is going to happen, but if that process continues and results in different partnerships, the transhipment market could easily change,” says Mr Mignogna.
Eurogate Tanger has a maximum capacity of 1.6m teu per year. “Our container terminal offers no area for further expansion projects, unless we seek co-operation with our neighbour container terminal managed by APM Terminals,” he says. Referring to the new APMT and Marsa Maroc operations at Tanger Med 2, he says: “As Eurogate Tanger we are interested in expanding our current facility, rather than operating two separate terminals in the same port.”
Heavy investment by the Moroccan government in improving rail and road links between Tanger and the hinterland and will benefit the port.
“The initiatives in progress are part of the same development strategy which includes ports, rail connections and roads,” says Mr Mignogna. “The different regions of the country are supposed to become part of a logistics network that will sustain the industrial development of Morocco. Eurogate Tanger will gain an advantage from the new infrastructural developments because it will be connected to regions which are not directly or not efficiently linked to the Port of Tanger Med today.”
Eurogate's own investment plans include heightening its STS cranes. And at the time of writing, the terminal was preparing to welcome the world's largest container ship. Due to call on May 8, the 20,170 teu MOL Triumph was on her maiden voyage from the Far East to Northern Europe, making the first call of the FE2 service of THE Alliance in Tangier.
Total cargo volumes at Tanger Med port rose 8.7% to 44.6m tonnes last year, according to figures from the Tanger Med Special Agency (TMSA), which has responsibility for the development and management of the port complex. Apart from containers, the port handled 263,233 trucks, an increase of 11% on 2015. Vehicle traffic at the dedicated Renault terminal rose by 21% to 312,962 cars, of which 252,982 were destined for export from the Renault plant at Tanger Med. Figures for the transhipment of vehicles show that another 72,807 cars were handled at the common user terminal, an increase of 32%. Hydrocarbons rebounded by 39% to 5.9m tonnes.
According to TMSA, the aggregate volume of business carried out by the companies operating within the 1,600 hectare Tanger Med industrial zone rose by more than 28% and now exceeds 64bn dirhams ($6.2bn), of which 50bn dirhams is in the automotive sector, 8bn dirhams in other industrial sectors such as aeronautical and textiles, and 6bn dirhams in logistics activities.
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