US-based engineering, construction and project management firm Bechtel has unveiled a new port design concept called ‘Multi-User Offshore Hub’ to meet shipping challenges in Africa.
Designed for two or more users, the new concept includes an offshore, smart terminal arrangement and docking system that can house ocean-going vessels and barges.
Bechtel said it expects the design concept to open new market opportunities for African ports by increasing capacity as well as reducing construction and operation costs.
Bechtel senior ports specialist Marco Pluijm said capacity should be increased at current African ports for both the import of consumer goods and the export of minerals as they would become more and more congested in the future.
"Each requires out-of-the-box solutions to handle as many containers as efficiently as possible and to speed the provision of new mineral export facilities to enable the region to develop its economy," Pluijm said.
"This solution could provide a reduction of up to 40% in port infrastructure construction costs compared with building a traditional port and up to 50% in operational cost savings, as the hub can handle much larger Capesize and Valemax vessels, which result in economies of scale," Pluijm added.
The new concept is also designed to help countries integrate their transport modes, such as rail and river barges, to offer efficient and sustainable logistics services.
The company is currently carrying out a research project to find out ways to improve the safety of mooring cargo ships on the West African coast, which often face unpredictable weather conditions.
Heavy ocean swell, squalls and shallow coastlines make it difficult for large vessels to be moored safely in the region and the three-year study aims to provide new mooring guidelines and systems that could help in the transport of natural resources from the region.
Image: Bechtel’s Multi-User Offshore Hub concept is intended to open new market opportunities for African ports by increasing capacity and reducing ports construction and operation costs. Photo courtesy of Bechtel.