Bintulu Port upbeat it can deliver results

SEPANG, Selangor: BINTULU Port Holdings Bhd, which has largely been dependent on handling liquefied natural gas (LNG), is optimistic of doing better this year as it expects more robust palm oil exports from its clients in the plantation sector and increased containerised and dry bulk cargo.

"There has been a 10 per cent increase in container throughput in the first quarter of the year," said chief executive officer Datuk Mior Ahmad Baiti.

"We are hopeful of topping 45 million tonnes in total throughput by the end of the year. This is about 10 per cent more than last year's 41.2 million tonnes," he said after the company's shareholders' meeting here yesterday.

Last year, Bintulu Port reaped RM146.39 million in net profit on the back of a RM527.85 million revenue. Its major customer, Malaysia LNG Sdn Bhd, contributed 23.53 million tonnes of LNG exports, more than half of the total throughput tonnage.

Mior noted that Bintulu Port's income will be less reliant on LNG as the palm oil cargo has started to expand rapidly in recent years, with encouraging growth in the container and dry bulk sectors, too.

"The amount of palm oil exports has expanded so much that it has overtaken that of container handling. This year, we expect an additional five per cent in crude palm oil shipment to 3.1 million tonnes," he said.

Also present was chairman Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah.

Bintulu Port's major shareholders are Sarawak State Financial Secretary Inc, Petronas and Kumpulan Wang Persaraan. 

It was reported that Bintulu Port was raising RM950 million from sukuk issuance to fund the new Samalaju Port, located 60km away to serve industries in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).

Bintulu Port will operate the Samalaju Port through wholly-owned subsidiary Samalaju Industrial Port Sdn Bhd, following Samalaju Port Authority awarding it a 40-year concession.

"The construction of Samalaju Port's interim facilities to cater for barges is currently under way," Mior said.

He added that two months ago, Bintulu Port had awarded a RM437 million job to Integrated Marine Works Sdn Bhd to carry out dredging and reclamation works. Under the package, the contractor will dredge a 5km access channel to deeper waters of 15m. 

Mior said contract for the proposed breakwater package will soon be dished out while the wharf package will be called in June. 

The other packages concerning land site infrastructure development and conveyor belt system would likely be awarded towards the end of this year.

The RM1.8 billion Samalaju Port, which is slated to complete by mid-2016, is designed to handle 18 million tonnes of cargo per annum compared with Bintulu Port's current capacity of 17.63 million tonnes (of non-LNG cargo) per annum. 

Samalaju Port's capacity can be raised to 30 million tonnes a year, if necessary.