The absolute priority was to keep the Port’s people and the Territory public safe without causing unnecessary delays to visiting ships.
This is particularly relevant to the oil and gas sector where shipping delays can lead to significant operations imposts with corresponding negative financial outcomes.
Absolute cooperation supported by effective communication with the INPEX and Santos teams has facilitated continuity of trade while keeping everybody safe. Business continuity has been achieved by adapting existing business practices to meet the controlled contact criteria under Darwin Port’s Covid-19 response.
A good example is the weekly Shipping Deconfliction meeting, chaired by the GM Operations. This became an online meeting, which allowed collaborative communication necessary for the safe and efficient running of the Port of Darwin to continue.
Representatives from ASCO, Santos, INPEX and Svitzer focus on the coming week’s scheduled shipping movements to identify times where concurrent shipping movements clash. Solutions are agreed at the meeting and then evaluated as the week progresses.
Darwin Port chief executive Darren Lambourn says: “So far the Port has been able to continue to provide a high level of service to customers and stakeholders, whom it thanks for their cooperation and understanding during this challenging time.”
Cruise The 19/20 cruise year was rolling along with comparable numbers to previous years when the full impact of the pandemic started to be felt.
At first, the Port received a number of inquiries from shipping agents seeking additional bookings in Darwin as cruise lines amended itineraries to cope with restrictions in other destinations.
This was quickly followed by mass cancellations as the cruise industry came to a standstill worldwide. It is not known when cruises will recommence and what the industry will look like.
Darwin Port continues to work with industry groups, such as the Australian Cruise Association and Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise lines and regulatory bodies, to ensure that the Fort Hill Wharf facilities will be able to cater for the industry’s
requirements when they are in a position to recommence operations.
Defence alliance The Port continues to work with the Australian Defence Force, allied Defence Forces and visiting foreign naval units to help them during visits to Darwin.
The Port has again provided support for the US Marine contingent rotation and has hosted visits by Australian and foreign naval units throughout the year. More recently, the port held discussions with major contractors involved in the upgrade of Defence facilities at HMAS Coonawarra to provide them with a workable logistics solution for the project.
Trade – a positive outlook
Not surprisingly, considering the rapid escalation of the implications of the pandemic during the second half of the 2019-20 financial year, the Port has experienced a slight downturn in trade.
“From the onset of the introduction of border closures and restrictions around trade-related activities, the focus has been on keeping the Port operational,” says Mr Lambourn.
“The importance of the Port to the success of the wider business community has been foremost in all activities relating to decision-making.”
The live cattle and container trades were both in line with the previous year’s volumes. Fuel imports were down for the year, but this was to be expected with the downturn in general business activity and the significant reduction in air movements through Darwin airport.
During the 2019-20 financial year, the Port also experienced a downturn in dry bulk exports, but it has been pleasing to see those volumes increase in recent months back to full production.
The Port has also been working with other proponents as they work towards their goals of dry bulk exports and it expects to see some of that work come to fruition shortly with additional products, such as lithium and iron ore, passing through the bulk ore ship loader.
Of particular note is that the Frances Creek iron ore mine has recently changed hands and with the iron ore price the highest it has been in many years, production of export grade iron ore has commenced at the mine site and the first export of the product through Darwin Port in over five years is close.
Supporting the community
Darwin Port, in collaboration with Landbridge, contributed $200,000 in community support during the 2019-20 financial year.
Support of the Clontarf Foundation continued with financial help to fund their valuable work and assistance of a more practical nature with the facilitation of workshops and worksite visits.
Darwin Port’s focus on predominantly supporting harbour-based activities continued through funding of the Darwin flotilla of the Australian Volunteer Coastguard, the Darwin Sailing Club youth training activities, the Dinah Beach Yacht Club and shorebird research through the Charles Darwin University.
Even with the pandemic, Darwin Port were proud to announce apprentice boilermaker Rodney Nagawalli had been named Aboriginal Trainee or Apprentice of the Year in the GTNT awards. The Port says the award was well deserved, and recognises the professionalism, efficiency and willingness Rodney has to continually develop his skills.
Darwin Festival rolls on
Landbridge was pleased to partner with the Darwin Festival as a Distinguished Partner and support the children’s show Witladla, which was created and performed by Larrakia elder Aunty June Mills.
More than 200 adults and kids enjoyed the shows, with each child receiving a special Witladla owl mask. Port partners Clontarf Foundation and Stars Foundation – Australia helped hand out the masks at the performances and the Clontarf and Stars students were ecstatic to attend a sound check for the Hip Hop Night with J-Milla and Electric Fields.TQ