Land purchase powers port's big plans

"This purchase is key for the future of Port Taranaki"

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 14/06/2013
port taranaki
ROBERT CHARLES
Power station at Port Taranaki

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Port Taranaki has taken a step to ensure it remains on track to become one of the country's busiest sea terminals.

Yesterday, Contact Energy Limited officially concluded the $24 million sale of its 21.5 hectare power station site to Port Taranaki and Methanex New Zealand.

The Taranaki Regional Council-owned port paid $15.5m for their majority stake. Last week, Methanex New Zealand paid $8.5m for approximately 2.5ha.

Port Taranaki chief executive Roy Weaver said future generations would be grateful for yesterday's purchase.

"When you look around the world, look around New Zealand, the ports that thrive are the ports that have land available to them for cargo aggregation, for port customers to put storage facilities on.

"This purchase is key for the future of Port Taranaki," he said.

While the 198 metre-high chimney will stay, the large maroon boiler house and several other buildings are likely to come down.

Yesterday's official handover essentially doubles the size of the port. The extra land could be used to store more bulk dry and liquid cargo and logs.

Currently the third largest export port by volume and sixth by value, Mr Weaver said he expected it to be the country's second-largest export port by volume, behind Tauranga, by the end of the year.

This increase in tonnage is coming from a massive boost in methanol production that will come with the reopening of the Waitara Valley methanol plant later this year.

The port is now exporting about 4 million to 5m tonnes of cargo, largely in oil, gas and logs, and importing dry cargo for farmers.

Port Taranaki property and infrastructure manager Bill Edie said the deal had other implications for New Plymouth, as they had also decided to restore the flash to the chimney's famous red lights.

The lights stopped flashing more than a year ago after a voltage problem had bulbs blowing out with expensive regularity.

"We have a new LED system coming and it will be going back to flashing.

"They will go back to two levels, not the three they are now," Mr Edie said.

The structure's red lights are required to stop aircraft flying into it.

The land purchased by Methanex houses two storage buildings and enables it to continue to transport and store methanol from the port without changing its current process or modifying infrastructure.

Contact chief executive Dennis Barnes said the company was delighted the site had been sold to two Taranaki-based businesses.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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