Singapore’s Overseas Port Management (OPM) is spearheading a group of global investors in a $450 million proposal to upgrade Yemen’s main port of Aden, news reports said.
OPM, a private company run by several former PSA veterans, has been operating the container terminal in Aden since late 2003. It is offering $23 million for its part of the latest project.
Observers say the proposal can be seen a vote of confidence in Yemen. The country lags behind its oil-rich neighbours in economic development and security is still seen as a key concern by foreign investors.
The port of Aden was upgraded by PSA in 1998, with hopes of turning it into a regional transhipment hub.
The port saw robust growth until a 2002 terrorist attack on the French-registered oil tanker Limburg lifted insurance premiums in regional waters, driving away shipping lines.
The falling business led PSA to pull out in October 2003. This prompted OPM’s founder, former PSA senior vice-president M.M.J. Subramaniam to take over the operation at the invitation of the Yemeni government.
In the past three years, annual throughput volumes at the port have trebled with the number of major shipping lines that call at Aden now exceeding the figure before 2002.
OPM is planning four new berths over the next few years, depending on demand.
“This will boost capacity from an effective 500,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year to a potential 4 million TEUs,” said Subramaniam.
The expansion project, which will require co-investments from the Yemeni government, is now awaiting approval.
(Terrorist attack on Limburg prompted PSA pullout in 2003) Caption for the picture