x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

DP World offers UK a port in the storm

As rainstorms and austerity batter the United Kingdom, Dubai's DP World is providing a potential US$5 billion (Dh18.36bn) spark of cheer for the country.

By late next year, London Gateway is due to become the most modern, semi-automated container port in northern Europe. Stephen Lock for The National
By late next year, London Gateway is due to become the most modern, semi-automated container port in northern Europe. Stephen Lock for The National

As rainstorms and austerity batter the United Kingdom, Dubai's DP World is providing a potential US$5 billion (Dh18.36bn) spark of cheer for the country.

The economy is still weak and the UK must adapt to spur sustainable recovery, a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers said last month.

"The euro-zone outlook remains stormy, which creates downside risks around growth," it said. "Despite recent, more encouraging signs, the economy remains relatively fragile and businesses must … respond to evolving global economic conditions."

About an hour's drive from the capital's centre, on the bank of the Thames Estuary, lies what DP World and the UK hope will be a beacon of that message.

By late next year, London Gateway is due to become the most modern, semi-automated container port in northern Europe.

It is at the forefront of port innovation and will have the best "tidal window access" in the region for deep-drafted vessels as well as a capacity of 3.5 million standard containers per year, according to the project's website.

With six berths and the capability to handle new ultra-large cargo ships, the terminal will use automated container handling systems and controls.

London Gateway is designed to provide significant an improvement in handling speeds, which will provide a significant reduction in the time spent in port.

Europe's largest logistics park will be adjacent to and integrated with the port. DP World said that would provide huge savings in transport costs and benefit the environment by removing unnecessary transport movements and "empty" miles for container transport and delivery vehicles.

Speed to market will also be dramatically improved, the company said.

In the past year, the company has streamlined its global operations as world trade patterns have shifted.

It has sold container terminals in the Netherlands, Russia and Yemen where it did not exercise complete control, and diverted the proceeds into more lucrative projects.

This, according to DP World's chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, has allowed the company to fund new ventures.

"During the third quarter of the year we have taken advantage of opportunities to reposition our portfolio towards higher-return businesses where we have management involvement," Mr bin Sulayem said.

Despite the global downturn, DP World's gross container volumes increased 4.5 per cent during the first nine months of this year.

London Gateway is a main pillar in the giant port operator's global plan. The group is already one of the largest of its kind in the world, with 60 terminals across six continents.

Simon Moore, DP World's London Gateway chief executive, said the project had huge business potential.

"The development is currently one of the largest inward investments into the UK and is the single largest jobs creation project in the country," he said.

That will be regarded by many in Britain as tidings of comfort and joy this festive season.

business@thenational.ae