Port Of Damietta: Bringing a modern feel to Egypt’s international shipping trade

One of the big areas of infrastructure development across the region in modern times has been that of the port, a hub of economic trade that connects nations to the wider trade world. With nearly 20 per cent of Egypt’s cargo moving through it and some 2,300 vessel calls per annum, The Port of Damietta is one of the key ports within Egypt and set to play an even more important logistic role in the region given its unique location on the Mediterranean.

The Port of Damietta is one of the oldest Egyptian ports. It dates back to the Pharoah’s Era. The French Campaign found Pharaonic remains in Damietta and transported them to the Louvre Museum through the Port. During Mohamed Ali’s Era (responsible for building the first Egyptian commercial and military fleet), the port greatly flourished and most of Egypt’s exports were transported through it. Construction of the new Port of Damietta started back in May, 1982.

port-lighthouseThe Port of Damietta is situated some 10 kilometre west of the Nile River (Damietta Branch), 70 kilometres west of Port Said, some 27 nautical miles from the East Port and 200 kilometres from Alexandria Port.

In total, the Port installations cover an area of 11.8 square kilometres, while the water surface occupies 3.3 square kilometres.

One of the biggest strategic and navigational advantages that the port enjoys is it proximity to the Suez Canal’s northern entrance; just 23 nautical miles away, meaning that on leaving Damietta, vessels join the Suez Canal Convoy quite directly.

Navigation is of course of paramount importance for ships and the Port makes this easy for all types of vessels as the turning basin is wide enough to allow safe operations for incoming, berthing and outgoing vessels.

There are also 2 water breakers available; one to the west extending to 1,500 meters and one to the east extending to 540 meters. Additionally there is a 4.5 kilometre long and 90 metre wide channel which is 5 metres deep, connecting the port to The River Nile. At the time of writing, there are plans to dredge this channel to reach 7metres.

Several navigational aids are in use to ensure safe navigation around the clock and these are supported by RADAR and a surveillance center.

The Container Terminal located at the Port of Damietta operates with 4 berths at present and totals 1,050 metres to a depth of 14.5 metres. Overall the Terminal occupies a space of around 1000,000 square metres and has a capacity to stack up to 450,000 teus per annum. There is also a reefer container yard that can accommodate 96 teus.

The Damietta Container & Cargo Handling Company (DCHC) has 650 Reefer Plugs, 10 container quay cranes, 16 RTGs and the Container Freight Station (CFS) is 5,000 square metres. 

There is a General Cargo Terminal comprising if 6 berths which total 1,190 metres and had a depth of 12 metres and this is capable of accommodating up to 12.5 metres draft ships. 

The Dry Bulk Terminal operates with 3 berths and can accommodate vessels up with up to 12 metre draft, while the Liquid Bulk Terminal consists of one 225 metre-long multipurpose jetty able to accommodate vessels up to 50,000 tons in weight. This facility includes 25 tanks with varied storage capacity covering a space of 500,000 square metres at the port.

The importance of the Port of Damietta to the Egyptian economy through its trade links is further underlined by the existence of its Cereals and Foodstuffs Terminal, which is home to 2 grain berths and covers a length of 600 meters, with a draft of 14.5 metres.

Additionally there is a Multi-purpose Terminal serving the port, which consists of 2 berth totaling 550 metres in lengths and 14.5 metres in depth, although plans are afoot for this to be dredged to increase the depth to 17 metres.

In addition, there is a 524 metre long marine services jetty available to a depth of 6 metres, while another barge berth totaling 30 metres in length and 5 metres in depth exists at the 4.5 kilometre-long River Channel.

The facilities also include a Cold Warehouse for Perishables which boasts a modernized warehouse for storing all types of frozen and refrigerated cargo. This 4-chamber facility occupies an area of 1,500 square metres with total storage capacity of 3,500 tons of fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry.

Such an impressive array of facilities might enhance the attractiveness of the Port of Damietta, but improvements are a constant necessity in such a competitive commercial environment.

A significant upgrade of the River Nile infrastructure is underway as the Government of Egypt is especially attentive to the role played by fluvial transport which is more economical, safer and above all environmentally-friendly compared to land transport. In 2009 operations commenced where consignments of fertilizers, cereals, cement and sugar were moved to and from the Port of Damietta via the Nile.

Further development 2 years later saw tangible shift in river transport through Damietta, when containerized commodity was moved by barges for the first time. A growing demand on barge transport is expected in the future and a well-equipped river jetty will be built to boost river transport as a key part of the logistic supply chain.

Damietta Port Authority also looked to increase its berth of general cargo to accommodate the increase of trading of cargo through the port and hired Pacer Consultants to take over the responsibility of the design of the new berth and the supervision of the construction process.

Pacer Consultants prepared the detailed design of construction of the berth and provided the technical assistance during the project period, designing the potable, fire fighting and

wastewater networks in a project including survey works, soil investigation, environmental

report, detailed design, tender documents, assisting the owner in bid evaluation and construction supervision.

The company has an important relationship with the Port of Damietta and has played an essential role in establishing the port’s future.

A study of the National Port Policy of Egypt – carried out by Pacer Consultants and P.R.

Harris revealed the need for a new port on the eastern part of Egypt. A study of candidate locations indicated that the best location for the development of the new port was Damietta.

Consequently the Ministry of Reclamation and New Communities awarded Pacer and P.R. Harris, the job of planning and infrastructure development of Damietta Port.

Across the world there is a growing significance for the export of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and Port of Damietta has acknowledged this with LNG production one of the prominent activities at the Port.

There is a massive gas terminal inside the port area working on a BOT system and incorporating the following companies:

The Spanish Egyptian Gas Company (SEGAS); this project started in December 2004 based on a 25 year concession agreement to liquefy and export natural gas via Port of Damietta at a minimum of 3 million tons per annum.

ship-coming-into-dockThe United Gas Derivatives Company (UGDC); operations started in March 2005 also according to a 25 year concession contract. Aminimum of 385,000 tons of natural gas derivatives are turned out and exported per annum by this complex.

Methanex Company; operations started in April 2011 according to a 25 year concession contract. This environment friendly petrochemicals project aims to produce and export a minimum of 2 million tons of methanol per annum.

Driven by its keen interest in keeping customer satisfaction at the highest level, the Port of Damietta Authority has fulfilled a number of significant rehabilitation steps to enhance port performance and harness its competitive edge.

These have included upgrading the traffic tower for higher and more accurate performance; providing additional marine units such as tugboats, pilot ships and mooring units; enhanced security systems and the construction of 2 railway lines for transporting containers and wheat.

In September 2014, Port of Damietta won the Award of “The Best Egyptian Port for Accommodating Giant Vessels”. The Port Authority received the award from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AAST) during the World Maritime day 2014 celebrations.

Lloyd’s Register has granted Port of Damietta the Certificate of Quality of Occupational Health and Safety (OHSAS 18001: 2007) which has been extended for 3 years for the second time in a row. The port is also a holder of the ISO 9001:2008 certificate.

The future look very bright for the Port of Damietta, as the Government of Egypt intends to establish a logistics hub to store, trade and manufacture grains and foodstuffs at a total cost of LE 13.1 billion at the site.

The project, which will be built on 3,350 square kilometres within the existing port area is expected to handle up to 65 million tons of grain and basic food commodities annually.

With an unquestionable willingness and ability to serve the domestic, regional and global shipping trade, the Port of Damietta always delivers on standards and expectations.