Seoul eyes port redevelopment over the next 20 years

Busan New Port. Credit: Busan Port Authority
Busan New Port. Credit: Busan Port Authority

South Korea has committed to the Second New Port Construction Basic Plan for 2019–40, containing mid- to long-term development plans for 12 new ports nationwide. The plan was developed some 20 years after the First New Port Construction Basic Plan in 1997.  

The 12 ports are Busan New Port, Gwangyang port, Pyeongtaek-Dangjin port, Mokpo New Port, Pohang (Youngilman) port, Boryeong New Port, Ulsan New Port, Incheon North Port, Incheon New Port, Saemangeum New Port, Jeju port, and Donghae port. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) has envisioned that in the medium to long-term, maritime tourism will be developed in Jeju, which is already a popular resort island. In line with President Moon Jae-in’s New Northern Policy of promoting economic interconnectivity with Russia and North Korea, as well as peace on the Korean Peninsula, Donghae port may be mobilised as a forward base. 

The government will invest USD40 million, with the funds contributed by the public and private sectors, to create 119 berths. The public sector is expected to contribute KRW16.8 billion (USD14.4 million) while KRW25.77 billion is expected to come from private companies. 

Besides this, the funds will go towards creating 39.56 million m2 of port hinterland. The MOF said that it hoped that the additional port facilities will result in additional cargo-handling capacity of 430 million tonnes per year and bring annual unloading capacity to 1.85 billion tonnes. 

In 2017, 27.17 million TEU of containers and 1.32 billion tonnes of cargo were handled by the new ports. The government is targeting to rise the figures to 48.73 million TEU and 1.85 billion tonnes by 2040. 

The MOF said that it considered a number of factors before determining that there is a need for a major port redevelopment plan. Among these are new technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and the internet of things. The industry’s gravitation towards eco-friendly and liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fueled ships and the need to reduce fine dust in ports has also been taken into consideration.   

Busan New Port, the largest container port in South Korea, will develop a second new port with 21 berths, becoming a mega port that can accommodate 25,000 TEU container ships. The MOF said that the expansion of Busan New Port is necessary as the volume of container ships has grown 

In the case of wharf scale, the quay wall of Busan New Port will be extended from 350 m to 400 m and the length of the container yard will be extended from 600 m to 800 m. The water depth is planned to be 23 m. In addition, there are also plans to build an LNG bunkering terminal, and a ship repair facility to turn Busan New Port into the world’s third-largest port by 2040.