Andrew Moffat, the Port of Tyne’s Chief Executive Officer foretold of exciting new opportunities earlier this year when he presented the port’s trading performance at its AGM, Insight, in May.
"I could only hint at the exciting opportunities to come" says Mr Moffat "and it is great to finish 2009 in such an upbeat manner. This agreement is in line with our strategy for sustainability and ensuring there continues to be a vibrant working port on the river Tyne."
On Wednesday 25th November 2009 the Port of Tyne and Drax Power Limited ("Drax") signed an agreement which will see the start of a project for the provision of handling and covered storage facilities for between 0.5 million and 1.4 million tonnes of biomass per annum, for an initial 10 year period.
The biomass, which will be from sustainable sources, will be used at the Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire. The Port of Tyne will be responsible for the unloading of vessels containing up to 75,000 tonnes of biomass, transfer to storage facilities and subsequent reloading to train for dispatch, all of which will occur on the south bank at the port’s operations in South Shields.
Mr Moffat says "Strategically, this development represents another major long term investment for the Port of Tyne that will take full advantage of our excellent deep water berths and facilities, infrastructure and manpower.
This is the kind of long-term project which not only ensures the port’s viability but also ensures future employment opportunities."
Mr Moffat added that the investment associated with this project will start immediately, with commissioning of the facility and cargo handling targeted to commence in 2010.
He says "There is some fairly extensive work to be done to accommodate the specific requirements of this project and we are investing over £16 million to ensure everything will be ready in time for the Port to be able to handle the new bio-mass cargo."
Drax is one of the Port of Tyne’s major customers. Drax Power Station provides in the region of 7% of the electricity in the UK and from mid 2010 is set to produce 12.5% of its output from renewable biomass. Drax started its working relationship with the Port of Tyne in 2004 with a contract for handling coal. Since then 95 vessels with a total volume of 3 million tonnes have been handled by the port.
Mrs Dorothy Thompson, Chief Executive of Drax says "This project represents a major commitment to the Port of Tyne by Drax and we are looking forward to continuing our good working relationship. Our venture into biomass is a key part of Drax’s commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of UK power generation."