Hutchison Port Holdings will spend $600m on building a state-of-the-art container terminal at Thailand’s largest port, Laem Chabang, enabling it to handle half of all the country’s sea trade.
When work on the three-phase scheme is finished in 2024 the port’s capacity will have increased from 12 million TEU containers to 15.5 million, roughly equal to the annual container throughput of Dubai.
Hong Kong-based Hutchison says the expanded Terminal D will be the first in the world to have fully remote-controlled dockside and gantry cranes, cutting labour requirements by about 30% and opening their operation to women and older employees.
Hutchison began increasing the capacity of Terminal D in January, when it took delivery of three super-post-Panamax quay cranes from Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries, as well as eight remote controlled rubber-tired gantry cranes.
The Eastern Economic Corridor
The completed project will include 1,700m of berths, 43 yard cranes and 17 remote control quay cranes able to handle the latest, and largest, container ships.
The expanded port, located in Chonburi province about 40km east of Bangkok, will be one of the nodes on Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor, an important element in the country’s plan for industrial development.
In March, the government approved a $7.2bn, 220km high speed railway between Bangkok, Laem Chabang and Pattaya. And in September last year a $3bn scheme was put forward to build Trust City, the world’s largest exhibition and trade centre, near Suvarnabhumi Airport, which would be serviced by the rail scheme (see Further Reading).
The developments signal the increasing integration of Thailand into China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). Stephen Ashworth (pictured), the managing director of Hutchison Ports Thailand, told the Nikkei Asian Review that Thailand’s eastern seaboard would be a key area for the BRI.
Top image: Stephen Ashworth, right, with Thanabodee Toopteanrat, director of operations as Laem Chabang (Hutchison)