May boom month for Port Taranaki

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 05:00 04/06/2014

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May was been a record-breaking month at Port Taranaki - and the second busiest in its history.

Last month the port handled 610,000 freight tonnes, just 22,000 tonnes shy of the record set in back in May 1997.

Port Taranaki chief executive Roy Weaver identified five factors that had contributed to the industrious month.

These included a high level of methanol exports - five tankers through the port in May each carried 50,000 freight tonnes, and an increase in crude and condensate loads.

Weaver also attributed the successful month to LPG tankers moving the liquid gas to the South Island and exporting overseas, as well as an increase in log movement at the port.

He said a record 21,000 tonnes was loaded on the Yangtze Brilliance - the same ship that brought in to port a record 29,000 tonnes of palm kernel last month.

Other animal feed imports, including wheat, barley and soya, also contributed to the busy month.

Weaver said it could have been a record breaker if it was not for the bad weather that held shipping up for a couple of days.

"The port's largest cargo lift month was May 1997," he said.

In that month, 17 years ago, the port's freight tonnage reached 632,000 tonnes.

"That was at the height of the Maui draws and when Methanex had three trains running."

Methanex's Waitara Valley plant was restarted last year after lying idle for seven years and its Motunui plant was de-bottenecked around the same time.

Taranaki is now Methanex's biggest producer of methanol and that Canadian company is the world's single largest supplier.

Released earlier this year, a report for the six months to December 31 showed the company's profit was up 28 per cent to $4.6 million, compared with $3.6m in 2012.

Port Taranaki is owned by the Taranaki Regional Council.

It pays a dividend to the TRC, which is used to offset rates increases.

TRC director of corporate services Mike Nield said as owner of Port Taranaki on behalf of the Taranaki region, the council was delighted that Port Taranaki was performing so well.

The port was established in 1875 and in 1881 work on a breakwater began to provide safe anchorage from the Tasman Sea.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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