Councils get $2m port dividend

The region's two councils will share a $2 million interim Port Nelson dividend announced yesterday.

The initial payment to the company's council shareholders is part of a $4.2m dividend it will pay out to Nelson City and Tasman District councils this financial year.

Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne and his Nelson counterpart, Rachael Reese, welcomed the news.

Port Nelson Ltd chairman Nick Patterson told those attending yesterday's joint council shareholders meeting that the company had started the year (the six months to December 2013) with strong cargo volumes and good revenue.

"The food industry is having a good harvest in terms of volumes and quality and we are seeing more and more wine track through the port from Nelson and Marlborough's huge harvest."

Patterson said log exports were steady, around 630,000 tonnes this year, and it was great to see increased interest from the cruise market.

In his update to the shareholding councils, the company's chief executive, Martin Byrne, said vessel visits were ahead of budget (408 vs 361) on the back of support ships associated with the three-week call of the giant oil storage and processing ship Raroa in October.

The Raroa arrived from the Maari oilfield off Taranaki, where it is permanently moored, to have a new 45-tonne swivel fitted, its hull painted and other refit work.

The project, including improvements to other associated vessels, was worth $80m and brought a large specialised workforce to Nelson and employed hundreds of Nelson workers.

"It was a good project, it went well, was on budget and on time. It enhanced us in the view of the oil and gas industry," Byrne said.

The visit contributed significantly to the company's 2013/14 financial result and Byrne hoped it signalled additional future oil and gas work.

But it had delayed the port's main major capital and maintenance spend on the container yard and crane upgrades which restarted in January.

Fertiliser imports, fish imports and export, car import and wine exports were all up, he said.

The company had spent around $200,000 on inspections of potentially earthquake-prone buildings and work in that area was continuing.

The Nelson Mail