Home » Ports/Terminals » Selling Subic Bay to int’l carriers an uphill battle

DESPITE perks offered by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Subic Bay will for now continue to play second fiddle to Manila ports.

“Subic has much potential but right now it will only take traffic out of Manila,” Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) president Patrick Ronas told PortCalls.

“Maybe SBMA still has to wait a couple of years more as cargo volume has shrunk to levels (last seen) decades ago due to the negative effects of the global financial crisis,” Ronas said.

He added, “(Subic Bay) won’t be a major player right now and (SBMA will) have to be content with what it has, but who knows?”

SBMA is banking on new locators for improved business, particularly from Philip Morris which uses the freeport as its Asia-Pacific distribution hub. Based on estimates, Subic will handle an annual volume of about 150,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for the cigarette maker.

Subic is also anticipating better volumes once a new operator for its New Container Terminal 2 (NCT-2) comes onboard later this year. SBMA is bidding out the 25-year management and operation contract for NCT-2. The contract is renewable for another 25 years.

NCT-2 has a capacity of 300,000 TEUs, expandable to 600,000 TEUs.

Subic will also reap additional revenues from a joint venture with Harbour Centre Port Terminals, Inc for the operation of the Naval Supply Depot.

SBMA sees a slow 2010, with cargo volume at only 30,000 TEUs – only a fifth of its original target made two years ago.

The freeport said any significant volume growth in containerized operations is unlikely considering the slow global economic recovery.

In 2009, SBMA’s container volumes dipped 0.4% to 29,252 TEUs from 29,372 TEUs in 2008, attributed mainly to the negative effects of the global financial crisis. The 2009 figure, however is higher by 2.3% compared to the 28,553-TEU target.

Subic’s bulk and breakbulk volume, meanwhile, increased 18.5% to 2.214 million metric tons (mmt) from 1.868 mmt in 2008. The 2009 figure is also up 1% compared to the goal of 2.194 mmt.

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