£300m Liverpool2 development picks up pace
Construction work is being ramped up at Peel Ports’ Liverpool2 development as next year’s opening target moves closer.
The £300m project has progressed since earlier this year after some of the worst winter storms to hit the Mersey disrupted schedules.
Delays had put work 60 days behind original targets, but project director Doug Coleman said they are now only 20 days behind their rescheduled programme, saying “We’re ramping up for the winter.”
That includes round-the-clock dredging to deepen existing channels in the River Mersey to eight metres to handle some of the biggest container ships in the world when Liverpool2 opens towards the end of 2015.
Rotterdam-based dredger Ham316 arrived in July and works in the river for a month at a time, 24/7, only returning to port to refuel and take on food supplies.
She will dredge up to five million cubic metres from the river bed, enough to fill more than three Wembley Stadiums, by the time she finishes in December.
Most of the material will be disposed far offshore, some will be used to replenish local beaches, but some of the best grade materials will be used to fill in the area being reclaimed from the river to create a terminal able to handle more than 600,000 containers.
The work is so intense that the teeth on the ‘drag head’ used to dredge the river bed have to be replaced once a week.
While the Ham316 toils in the Mersey, work is also being stepped up on creating Liverpool2’s new container terminal and its two-vessel river berth, with nearly half the 345 piles already sunk into the river bed.
A week today the Danish-registered Sea Jack will be positioned in the river to pick up the pace.
She is normally used to position offshore wind turbines, and will replace the current vessel, Pauline, bringing more capacity and more powerful equipment to drill and lift piles into position.
About 150 people are currently working on Liverpool2, but this will increase to around 200 next March or April when the next major phase begins, to asphalt the reclaimed land which Mr Coleman says will break new ground:
“The whole area has been designed to take settlement and the winning contractor is likely to have worked on airport runways or motorways. That’s the expertise we’re looking for.”
Meanwhile, planning on the logistics side is also well advanced. In April this year Peel announced a £100m deal with Shanghai-based Zhenhua Heavy Industries for 17 mega cranes, including five massive 3,000-tonne ship-to-shore cranes which will each be taller than the Liver Building.
Mr Coleman said:
“These are well on their way to manufacture and the first cranes should be here by June next year.”
The new cranes will be able to load or offload a container every 35-37 seconds compared with the minute it takes now. Mr Coleman said:
“In order to make our business plan work that is what we need to be talking about, 35-37 seconds unloading or loading.”
When Liverpool2 opens it will be able to handle some of the biggest container ships in the world. It currently accommodates ships carrying 4,500 containers, but it will be able to accept ships with a capacity of 12,800 teus.
Mr Coleman explained:
“A teu is a ‘20ft equivalent unit’. Containers first came into their own in the Korean war when the US military had to move equipment. They were 20ft long, but most containers now are 40ft long.”
He said the existing 4,500 teu market will remain just as strong. Work is also starting on selling Liverpool2 to the global industry.
Port director David Huck said:
“We are about to begin a series of international visits, enabling us to underline directly the major advantages of Liverpool2.”
“Trips to India, Colombia and the US are planned for the next few months, with information on the development already being sought by the organisations and companies we are targeting.”
Source Liverpool Echo