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Summary for March 19 - March 23, 2007:

AIG closes deal with DP World

AIG Global Investment Group announced that it has completed the purchase of 100% of the stock P&O Ports North America from P&O Holdings, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of global marine terminal operator, DP World.

Following the closing of the transaction, the company will operate as Ports America, Inc., with operations principally comprises marine terminal concessions in the ports of New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, Tampa and New Orleans.

Ports America will also have stevedoring operations in 16 locations along the East and Gulf Coasts and a passenger terminal in New York City.

AIGGIG Chief Executive Officer, Win Neuger, stated "We are pleased to add the acquisition of Ports America to our managed portfolios” and “We plan to continue the POPNA management team's commitment to operational excellence, superior customer service and workplace safety."

On Dec 10, 2006, AIG Global Investment Group entered into an agreement to purchase P&O Ports North America from P&O Holdings, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of global marine terminal operator, DP World for an undisclosed price.

At the time, DP World CEO Mohammed Sharaf said, "With the sale of the U.S. assets, we have concluded the process and our commitment to the American people that we began in March, 2006. Meanwhile, we continue to expand globally in response to our customers' needs."

NWNJ Port Authority reaches agreement with AIG

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Mar 16 announced that following talks, representatives of DP World, AIG Global Investment Group and the Port Authority have reached an agreement in principle that will allow Ports America, Inc. to acquire DP World’s interest in the Port Newark Container Terminal.

“Ports America affirmed its plan to make capital expenditures of a minimum of $50mn in the Port Newark Container Terminal during the life of its investment, including $10mn earmarked for the Port Authority’s development of port rail infrastructure surrounding PNCT,” a Port Authority statement said.

“The parties believe that Ports America’s commitment will help ensure the continued growth of jobs and economic activity at the port,” the port statement said.

The Port Authority said it concluded that materials and information it received regarding Ports America and its ownership have confirmed that it will be “a suitable terminal operator and partner committed to making investments that are critical to the continued strength and viability of the Port of New York and New Jersey, the leading East Coast destination for international shippers.”

DPW buys Kalmar tractors for Jebel Ali

DP World continues to invest in its Jebel Ali Port container facility with an order for 84 Kalmar PT122 terminal tractors, due for delivery this summer to the new Terminal 2 (T2) expansion phase.

The new PT122 terminal tractors on order will be new versions of the previously supplied units currently working at Jebel Ali Terminal 1. This model is said to be a reliable and robust container yard tractor and comes equipped with an EU Stage 3A/Tier III engine.

The PT122 units will feature a specially designed 5th wheel construction, a larger A/C capacity and a unique driver’s seat configuration.

DP World operates more than 40 Kalmar straddle carriers at Port Rashid. At Jeddah and Djibouti ports, it operates Kalmar rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes, while at Jebel Ali it has retrofitted dozens of RTGs with Kalmar’s patented Smartrail autosteering and container position verification system.

A long-time user of Kalmar’s empty container handlers (ECHs), DP World ordered 23 units for Jebel Ali Port in 2006.

China International Marine Containers 2006 Net CNY2.77bn

China International Marine Containers (Group) Co. (000039.SZ) said its 2006 net profit rose 3.84% on-year, driven mainly by an increase in profit from its road transport vehicle business.

CIMC, the world's largest manufacturer of shipping containers by units, said in its annual report its net profit increased to 2.77bn yuan ($358.5mn) in 2006 from CNY2.67bn a year earlier, according to Chinese accounting standards.

The Shenzhen-based firm's core revenue rose to CNY33.17bn in 2006, from CNY30.96bn a year earlier.

Looking ahead, the company said it is aiming to strengthen its leading position in the container industry by exploring new markets.

Analysts had expected CIMC's full-year results to continue to show the effects of industry overcapacity and falling prices in its core business of dry cargo containers.

CIMC reported a 19% drop in net profit for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2006, to CNY2.15 billion, with profit margins on containers down to 13.2% from 17.5% a year earlier.

However, the company's diversification into more specialized and profitable businesses, such as trailers used in road transport, was expected to limit the full-year decline in net profit, analysts said.

POLA, POLB allocate $6.3mn to continue fleet modernization

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are allocating an additional $6.3mn in funding to the Gateway Cities Council of Governments for the maintenance of its Fleet Modernization Program, an initiative aimed at replacing older, dirtier diesel trucks with newer, less polluting vehicles.

The bridge funding will be used by Gateway Cities to continue the replacement of older harbor trucks in the short term as the ports complete the development of a truck fleet modernization initiative as outlined in the San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) approved by both ports' harbor commissions last November.

The truck modernization program is being designed to replace and/or retrofit more than 16,000 harbor trucks that, altogether, make 80% of the calls on the marine terminals in the San Pedro Bay Ports. These trucks will either be replaced with newer, cleaner diesel or alternative fuel rigs, or they will be equipped with devices that will reduce emissions of diesel particulates.

The Port of Los Angeles is allocating $3.3mn and the Port of Long Beach is contributing $3mn in this latest round of funding for the Gateway Cities Fleet Modernization Program.

Container cargo shipments through LA/Long Beach keep rising

Cargo container throughput at the port complex continues to show strong growth despite signs that the national economy is slowing.

Through the first two months of 2007, combined container traffic at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles increased more than 12% year-over-year, fueled primarily by big gains on the Los Angeles side.

Although retailers reported a slight drop last month in sales nationally, economists expect container throughput to climb another 10% in Mar 2007 -- typically one of the weakest months for shipping.

Total throughput jumped 35% in Los Angeles in Feb 2007 from a year earlier and reflected continued strong growth in exports, which rose 23% for the month.

January figures showed total throughput reaching 691,602 TEUs in LA, an 11.5% increase from Jan 2006.

In Long Beach, growth has been weaker, rising 2.1% in Jan and 5% in Feb. Feb was dragged by a 1.6 percent drop in exports from the year prior.

Economists initially forecast increases in Long Beach-Los Angeles of between 5 and 7% through the year. They now expect 8% or more, which would equate to the ports combined handling an additional 1.2mn containers in 2007.

Maersk launches direct shipping service from Chennai to US

Shipping major Maersk on Mar 16 launched its direct shipping service from Chennai to the United States.

The Chennai-US MECL 2 service is a weekly one, providing connectivity to Colombo, Salalah, Jeddha, Algeciras, Savannah, Norfolk and Newark, Company's Vice President Vishal Sharma said.

Chennai, on the East Coast of the Indian subcontinent would be the company's transhipment hub for cargo from Visakhapatnam, Kolkata and Chittagong, he said.

Maersk Line’s mother vessel ‘Maersk Djibouti,’ the largest container vessel to ever call Chennai, has a maximum capacity of 5,060 TEUs.

He said the company would break-even if it could generate a business of 2,000 TEUs every week from Chennai.

Dual cyclones put Rio deliveries in a spin

Rio Tinto may miss deliveries from its Robe River iron ore mines in Western Australia because of Mar 2007’s two cyclones.

Cyclones George and Jacob had prevented ships from loading the steel-making raw material from Mar 8-13, Rio Tinto spokesman Gervase Greene said.

Rio, which said yesterday it had informed customers Mar 14, had not quantified the amount of deliveries it might miss, he said.

Wet weather in the mining areas in Australia combined with rising demand from China to help Rio and BHP Billiton win a 9.5% increase in iron ore prices from April 2007.

Contract prices might rise 10% in 2008, Macquarie Bank said on Mar 15.

Rio Tinto shares, which are listed in Australia and Britain, rose as much as 72c, or 1% in day trading to $74.42, and closed at $74.50, up 80c.

BHP shares gained 55c to $28.35.

The Robe River mines, of which Rio Tinto owns 53%, produced 28mn tons of iron ore for the company last year.

Mitsui Iron Ore Development owns 33% of Robe, Nippon Steel Australia 10.5% and Sumitomo Metal Australia 3.5%.

Vestas wins order for wind turbines in the US

Vestas has received an order for a total of 24 MW of the V90-3.0 MW wind turbine for a project in the windswept Tehachapi Pass area in Southern California. The order has been placed by Alite Wind, LLC, part of the Allco Wind Energy group and is 100% owned by Allco Finance Group Ltd, based in Sydney Australia.

The 24 MW project is the first phase of the Alta Wind Energy Center that is under development in the Tehachapi, CA, wind resource area by Alta Innovative Power Company, LLC, a joint venture between Allco Wind Energy and Oak Creek Energy Systems, Inc for the development, construction and operation of the wind farms.

In Dec 2006, Allco Wind Energy, through Alta Windpower Development LLC, a subsidiary of Allco, announced the signing of an agreement with Southern California Edison (SCE) for the development and power offtake of 1,500 MW of new wind power projects to be built in the Tehachapi area of CA.

The project represents the first US project between the parties and will be the largest “behind the meter” wind project in the USA. When completed, the project will directly supply power for the adjacent California Portland Cement plant in Mojave, California.

Vestas will supply and commission the wind turbines, as well as provide maintenance and service for a five-year period. Shipment of the first turbines will begin in the third quarter of 2007, and the wind farm will be operational in October 2007.

See: Vestas, Allco and California Portland Cement.

Global Partners to buy 3 Exxon Mobil refined product terminals

Global Partners LP signed a definitive agreement to buy three refined products terminals from Exxon Mobil Corp in an effort to expand its operations in the US Northeast.

The Waltham, MA, wholesale distributor of distillates, gasoline and residual oil said Mar 19 the terminals, in Albany and Newburgh, NY, and Burlington, VT, have a combined storage capacity of 1.3mn barrels of petroleum fuels.

In addition, Global Crossing and ExxonMobil agreed to five-year contracts for use of the terminals upon completion of the deal.

Financial terms of the transaction weren't disclosed, but Global Partners plans to finance the deal by expanding its existing credit facility and selling $50mn of Class B units at $28 a unit.

The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2007 and to be accretive to Global Partners unitholders in the first 12 months of operation.

BNSF, UP officials to address JP Morgan Aviation & Transportation Conference

Thomas N. Hund, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp (NYSE:BNI), will address the JP Morgan Aviation and Transportation Conference to be held in New York City on Mar 21-22.

Hund’s presentation will be on Thursday, Mar 22, 2007, at 11:15am Eastern time, and will describe BNSF's franchise, growth opportunities and financial results.

Interested investors may listen to the presentation via a simultaneous Webcast on BNSF's Website. A replay will be available in the "Investors" section of the BNSF Website shortly after the presentation ends.

Following Hund, Jim Young, chairman of Union Pacific Corp (NYSE:UNP), will also discuss his company’s business volumes, growth opportunities, productivity initiatives, and long-term outlook at the Conference.

Interested investors may listen to the presentation via a live Internet webcast at 12:00pm ET on Mar 22, 2007.

The audio webcast and presentation material will be available through the UP Website under “Investors”.

To listen to the call, go the UP Website at least 15 minutes early to register and install any necessary software.

Following the live webcast, an Internet replay of the presentation will be available through Union Pacific’s Web site.

Union Pacific

UP completes $38mn LA Basin projects early

Union Pacific Railroad completed its $38mn track improvement projects on two of its main line tracks in the Los Angeles Basin nearly seven days ahead of schedule.

The track improvements were made to rail lines through City of Industry, Mira Loma, Pedley, Diamond Bar, Hacienda Heights, Montebello, City of Commerce, Hobart, El Monte, Bassett and La Puente.

Crews installed more than 93,000 concrete ties; spread 110,000 tons of rock ballast to ensure a stable roadbed; replaced the surfaces at 18 road crossings; replaced 33 turnouts that guide a train from one track to another; replaced 36 miles of straight rail and replaced 1,800 feet of rail in various curves on the lines.

The installation of concrete ties will enhance track strength to better handle the nation’s growing demand for rail shipments, and concrete ties last longer than traditional wooden ties – reducing the time needed for future track maintenance.

In a statement, Union Pacific said the improvements are part of an ongoing program to maintain the track across its system of more than 32,400 miles.

UP’s LA track improvements

Japan wants limits on foreign ownership of airports

The Japanese government needs to place restrictions on foreign investment in its international airports when it takes them public, according to the results of a meeting held Mar 15, 2007 by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

This recommendation, due out before the end of March 2007 along with others, is prompted by security concerns over foreign control of the sensitive public facilities, which handle both cargo and passengers.

The recommendations are to be reflected in proposals slated for June 2007 by a subcommittee on airports.

Based on these findings, the Ministry will start devising a workable system with the aim of submitting bills to a Diet session in 2008.

The new framework is expected to be applied to the government-owned Narita International Airport Corp, which is scheduled to begin its privatization process when it goes public in fiscal 2008.

Air China plans cargo venture with Cathay

Air China will set up an air cargo joint venture with Cathay Pacific Airways in Shanghai by the end of 2007 to increase its market share in the lucrative market, chairman Li Jiaxiang said Mar 20, 2007.

Air China, whose shares fell Mar 20 after the company reported a less than expected 11.7% gain in net profit to 2.69bn yuan, on Mar 19 said that its cargo yield fell by 6.8% in 2007.

The company attributed the decline to competition from domestic and international carriers. The shares, which fell as much as 4.2%, closed down 3.37% at HK$5.74.

"The general picture for the Asia cargo market is weak and [Air China's] cargo unit will be under pressure this year," said Karen Chan, transport analyst for Credit Suisse First Boston.

Li ruled out merging Air China's cargo unit with China Eastern Airlines in the near term. China Eastern's China Cargo Airlines and Air China Cargo Airlines, the biggest domestic operators in the market, can handle less then 30% of international shipments in and out of the country, leading to industry calls for a merger between the two to counter foreign competitors.

Air China wants to use the venture with Cathay to capitalize on networking between Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing and attract more cargo through Beijing.

Fedex to start next-day delivery in mainland China

FedEx, the world's third-largest transport-services company, will begin offering the country's first domestic next-day delivery service to 19 mainland coastal cities at the end of May.

The service will operate out of Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, in which Airport Authority Hong Kong has a 35% stake. The $4mn facility initially will be able to sort up to 9,000 packages per hour.

FedEx also plans to begin offering day-definite deliveries to more than 200 cities. The firm and its main competitors UPS, DHL and other logistics companies plan to expand in the mainland as rising exports boost demand.

ANA under investigation

Japan’s All Nippon Airways has come under investigation by the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice apparently as part of a year-long probe into anticompetitive practices in the international air cargo industry.

“I can confirm that the Antitrust Division is investigating the possibility of anticompetitive practices in the air cargo industry,” a DOJ spokeswoman told Marine Digest & Cargo Business News. But she declined questions about ANA, saying “I am not commenting on a specific company or companies we may be investigating.”

News of the probe emerged on Mar 16 after agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a raid the day before on offices of All Nippon Airways, located in Torrance, CA.

The FBI agents, armed with a federal search warrant, began their probe of the ANA branch around 7:30am on Mar 15, forcing a temporary closure of the bureau’s reservation center until 4.30pm or so.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller declined to tell MD&CBN why the office was under investigation, saying only that the search warrant had been issued by the Department of Justice in Washington, DC and that the warrant was under seal.

In Torrance, ANA spokeswoman Jean Saito told MD&CBN that the airline was awaiting further information concerning the nature of the investigation. Earlier, ANA said there was no suspicion of terrorism and that its flights were operating normally.

The DOJ statement concerning anticompetitive practices in the air cargo industry is a word-for-word repeat of statements made just over a year ago when it – along with the European Commission and Asian authorities – announced an investigation of the air cargo industry.

PNY/NJ sets cargo record in 2006

International cargo volumes in the Port of New York and New Jersey hit record levels in 2006, with containerized cargo volumes rising nearly 8% to 5mn TEUs of loaded and empty containers.

The dollar value of all cargo moving through the port in 2006 exceeded $149bn for the first time, up 13% from 2005.

To improve the flow of cargo, $2bn in infrastructure upgrades are planned for marine terminal facilities and for off-port roads and railways.

In addition to investments in the 50-ft harbor deepening project and on-dock rail facilities, the 10-year budget includes funds to upgrade two major thoroughfares at the port and to develop an Intelligent Transportation System for the port and to improve inland access.

Construction of the port’s ExpressRail system continues to advance toward a scheduled completion in 2011.

In March 2007, a $40mn component of the project was completed to install new support track that will double the capacity of ExpressRail Port Newark to more than 100,000 containers a year.

The ExpressRail system, when fully built, will be able to handle 1.3mn shipping containers a year.

Chiquita pleads guilty to funding terrorists

Chiquita Brands International Inc has pleaded guilty before the US District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of engaging in transactions with a specially-designated global terrorist.

Chiquita pled guilty pursuant to a written plea agreement, which will include a $25mn criminal fine, the requirement to implement and maintain an effective compliance and ethics program, and five years' probation.

Chiquita also has agreed to cooperate in this ongoing investigation. Sentencing will occur on June 1, 2007.

The plea agreement arises from payments that Chiquita had made for years to the violent, right-wing terrorist organization United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

The AUC had been designated by the US government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on Sep 10, 2001, and as a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist on Oct 31, 2001.

In April 2003, Chiquita made a voluntary self-disclosure to the government of its payments to the AUC, giving rise to this investigation.

OSG sentenced for vessel pollution

Overseas Shipholding Group Inc (OSG) Mar 21 pleaded guilty and was sentenced in federal court to pay $27mn for violations in Boston, Portland, Maine, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Wilmington, NC.

OSG also was sentenced to serve a three-year term of probation during which it must implement and follow a stringent environmental compliance program that includes a court-appointed monitor and outside independent auditing of OSG ships trading worldwide.

In January 2007, OSG pled guilty to additional charges in Beaumont, TX, and is awaiting sentencing in that case for which it has agreed to pay another $10mn.

The total $37mn plea agreement is the largest-ever involving deliberate vessel pollution.

The charges involving 12 OSG oil tankers range from June 2001 to March 2006 and include violations of the Clean Water Act as amended by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, conspiracy, false statements, and obstruction of justice.

A motion was granted to award 12 current and former OSG crew members with $437,500 each for their role in blowing the whistle on illegal conduct.

The provision for a whistleblower award is set forth in the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and provides that individuals providing information leading to conviction may be awarded up to half of a criminal fine.

OSG to build three new ATBs

Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc (NYSE:OSG) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to build three new Articulated Tug Barges (ATBs), each with a carrying capacity of approximately 290,000 barrels (bbl) of oil.

Each barge will be connected to a new 12,000 horsepower tug boat and will be capable of carrying refined petroleum products as well as crude oil within the US Jones Act market.

The units are scheduled to be delivered from late 2009 through late 2010.

The tug boats will be constructed at Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co, Inc. in Mobile, AL, and the barges will be constructed at Bender’s affiliated company, Tampa Bay Shipbuilding & Repair Co.

OSG estimates that the total cost of construction, including owner-furnished equipment, will be approximately $90mn for each ATB unit.

NYK receives two new 8,600-TEU containerships

Nippon Yusen Kaisha (TSE:9101) has received the second and third of the eight 8,600 TEU containerships it has under order, four from Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. and four from IHI Marine United Inc.

The two new ships will be incorporated into the European EU4 route operated by the Grand Alliance.

With the addition of the two containerships, NYK said it will be able to respond to the expanding demand for transportation to various countries, particularly China.

NYK also said it will continue to strive to stabilize liner service schedules with newly built vessels, and enhance cost-competitiveness by expanding the size of its vessels.

The additional five vessels currently under construction will be completed by the first half of 2008, and also will incorporated into the Grand Alliance European routes as they are delivered.

Attending the naming ceremony were Keiji Aritomi, chairman of Yamato Holdings Co. Ltd. (TSE:9064) and Kaoru Seto, president of Yamato Holdings Co. Ltd. and their wives.

Mrs Tokuko Aritomi named the second ship NYK Venus, and Mrs Setsuko Seto named the third ship NYK Vesta.

NYK and Yamato Holdings entered into a strategic partnership last June, setting up a 50/50 joint venture – Yamato NYK Global Solutions Co – that will develop international logistic services.

Yamato Holdings recently announced plans to start offering an international distribution service in April that will allow shippers to receive immediate payment for goods.

Boeing supports NCA with supply chain solution

Boeing (NYSE:BA) will manage a significant portion of Nippon Cargo Airlines' spare-parts inventory under a program designed to improve spare-parts availability for the freight carrier while reducing operating costs.

Under the Integrated Materials Management (IMM) program, Boeing and other suppliers will own airplane parts that Nippon Cargo, a subsidiary of Nippon Yusen KK (TSE: 9101), would normally need to hold in inventory.

Boeing will manage the inventory and logistics for many of Nippon Cargo's expendable airplane parts.

"Supply-chain management is a critical part of our business today, and we're pleased to have Boeing as a partner," said Takuzo Nomura, managing director and senior vice president, Engineering and Maintenance, for Nippon Cargo Airlines.

"This program is an especially good fit for us with our 747-400s. It will help us manage our costs and improve our financial performance."

Nippon Yusen KK and Nippon Cargo Airlines Co. in February said that they formed a tie-up with Jett8 Airlines Cargo, a Singaporean international cargo airline.

Under the deal, NCA will sell to Jett8 a Boeing 747-200F that is to be retired by the end of March.

Using this aircraft, Jett8 will fly between Singapore and Hong Kong as well as on other routes, such as those to Europe and the Middle East.

Shipping firms sue Michigan

US and Canadian shipping interests have joined together to try to strike down a Michigan law that attempts to stop the spread of invasive species such as zebra mussels into the Great Lakes.

Four shipping companies, four shipping associations and one dock company filed a complaint in US District Court in Detroit asking a judge to declare the Michigan Ballast Water Act unconstitutional.

The state law, which took effect Jan 1, as the first such law in the nation, requires all oceangoing ships visiting Michigan ports to obtain permits and to promise not to discharge untreated ballast water.

The shippers, including the Seaway Great Lakes Trade Association and the US Great Lakes Shipping Association, argue in the lawsuit filed Mar 22 that the law interferes with interstate commerce and is therefore unconstitutional.

Michigan State Sen. Patty Birkholz, R-Saugatuck, said she introduced her legislation after the federal government failed to act against the obvious source for invasive species entering the Great Lakes.

"I am just shocked," Birkholz said of the suit by the shippers. "If anything, we ought to be suing them."

Invasion of the Zebra Mussels

Major ship canal locks open early

Closed since mid-January for winter maintenance, three major ship-canal locks are opening this week.

The Welland Canal opened Mar 20, the Montreal/Lake Ontario portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway opened Mar 21 and the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie will open Mar 25.

Freighter crews are gearing up for the shipping season after taking a winter break during the lock closures. The season is expected to bring a mix of high demand and low Great Lakes water levels, which could cut profits.

Although some freighters continued to traverse the St. Clair River this winter carrying heating oil from Nanticoke, Ontario, and salt from Goderich, Ontario, many stop shipping in winter because of restricted access to ports.

Crews work hard from March to January on the freighters, which carry cargo such as iron ore, limestone and steel throughout the Great Lakes region and around the world.

"It's tough work," said Frank Frisk, a retired cook-porter with the Interlake Steamship Co. who now works at in Port Huron.

Boat Nerd

Peel Ports wins approval for Liverpool terminal

Capacity at Liverpool, the UK's number three container port, will increase by more than 60% following government approval of Seaforth River Terminal as proposed by The Mersey Docks and Harbour Co, a division of Peel Ports.

The approval follows an earlier announcement by Peel aimed at regenerating Liverpool and turning it into a world-class port rivaling cities such as Dubai, Vancouver, New York and Shanghai.

"After carefully considering all the likely impacts on local residents and on the environment, I am satisfied that the case has been made for a new terminal to serve larger vessels in Liverpool's growing Atlantic container trade,” said Transport Minister Gillian Merron.

The riverside terminal will cover about 17 hectares, to be reclaimed from the River Mersey and the foreshore in front of the Royal Seaforth Dock in Bootle.

The new facility - which is projected to cost £90m - will be the first on the UK's west coast able to handle post-Panamax ships, which can currently use only the southern ports of Felixstowe and Southampton.

Fully developed, Liverpool’s new terminal will be able to handle 500,000 TEUs per year, effectively doubling present capacity.

Peel Ports is the second largest port group in the UK, operating the Ports of Liverpool and Heysham on the West Coast and the Medway Ports of Sheerness and Chatham in the South East of England.