The Pilbara Port Authority announced earlier this month that it will be increasing its capacity at the port of Port Hedland by 16% over the next 3 years. This will see the port’s capacity increase from 495,000,000 tonnes to 577,000,000 tonnes per year. This has come following the port’s record throughput in 2014-15 of 446,921,901 tonnes. This increase will be allocated to the D class capacity, meaning it will be available to all applicants. The PPA has paired with OMC International, an independent maritime engineering company, to develop and implement what the PPA is calling the ‘Tidal Model.’ This model is based on OMC’s Dynamic Under Keel Clearance model which it first implemented at the port in 1996.
This model increases operational efficiencies by measuring real time swell and tide data as well as vessel’s own stability requirements to determine accurate allowances for squat and wave response. This allows increased loading of ships as well as increased throughput each day at the port. OMC’s estimations indicate that this will amount to around $1.1 billion extra revenue being generated by the port. The system is also said to facilitate improved safety and risk management procedures by allowing for increased manoeuvrability of ships in a carefully monitored way. This increase in capacity has been welcomed by companies such as Fortescue Metals Group Ltd and BHP Billiton Ltd who are both seeking to increase their capacity at the port over the next few years.