Article – NT eyes investors for Darwin port

24 February 2014
Angela MacDonald-Smith
Stock & Land

NORTHERN Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles will embark on a drive to bring billions of dollars of private investment to expand port facilities in Darwin, including a potential second port.

Over the weekend, the NT gov­ernment appointed investment bank ­Flagstaff Partners to devise a strategy for introducing private investment into the port, although Mr Giles rejected suggestions the targeted restructuring constituted a sell-off.
“We’ll look at capital opportunities, with a view to long-term leasing,” said Mr Giles before leaving for Vietnam, the NT’s second-biggest live cattle market, to talk about the plan.
“We are actively looking for strategic partners.”
Melbourne-based Flagstaff has been charged with putting together a strategy to address the need for private investment in the existing Darwin port and the development of a planned second port at Glyde Point, about 40 kilometres north-east of Darwin.
It will also consider ways of encouraging investment in a marine industry park and in the redevelopment of other foreshore marine infrastructure.
Plans include relocating some marine industries to the port area to free up land on the Darwin central business district foreshore for residential development.
Experts involved in NSW’s successful leasing of Port Botany last year have also helped advise the NT government.
Ports have emerged as hot assets around Australia in the last few years, attracting billions of dollars of investments from local and overseas infrastructure investors.
Canadian pension funds, Japanese trading houses and Middle East sovereign wealth funds have taken part in processes to privatise ports in NSW and Queensland.
Darwin’s port facilities enjoyed a surge in trade last financial year, driven by livestock and export cargo, while cruise ship arrivals also rose.
Liquefied natural gas exports are set to jump in coming years once Inpex Corporation’s $US34 billion ($37.6 billion) Ichthys project starts production in late 2016, while plans are afoot to develop a marine supply base servicing the offshore oil and gas industry in the Timor Sea and Browse Basin.
Mr Giles said private investment in Darwin’s port infrastructure would make the facility more competitive, cut freight charges and reduce the cost of living for Territorians.
“The strategy will also help address the need to develop a second port and to reserve land for future strategic and heavy industry,” he said. Flagstaff is expected to complete its work within months, allowing moves to go ahead later this year to bring in private investment.
The port plan is the latest infrastructure initiative to be announced by Mr Giles, who has underlined the importance of such investment to drive exploitation in the NT’s resources.
He has firmly endorsed APA Group’s initiative, announced last week, to examine the feasibility of linking the NT’s gas pipelines with the rest of the grid in eastern Australia.
Earlier this month, the NT government also introduced legislation to split up utility Power and Water Corporation, which state Treasurer Dave Tollner said would attract more private investment into electricity supply.
Courtesy of Stock and Land