Building huge new port infrastructure in the notoriously fast moving waters of the Bristol Channel is a major engineering challenge for the Bristol Port Company.
Bristol Port has recently started one of the most technically demanding civil engineering projects in the UK maritime sector as it commences a £580M project to build the new deep water container terminal at Bristol Port.
A Harbour Revision Order, granted in March 2010, gave the green light to the terminal which will be able to handle up to 1.5 million 20ft equivalent containers (TEUs) a year - capacity which will be in great demand.
The government has identified a massive gap in port container capacity. By 2030 the UK will need to be able to handle 20 million TEUs a year, but current capacity is only around 7.5 million a year.
“Building the new deep sea container terminal is a fascinating engineering challenge,” says director of engineering at the Bristol Port Company, John Chaplin.
“We are used to operating with one of the highest tidal ranges in the world but we are not blasé about the difficulties of constructing this massive new structure safely, on time and on budget.
“The site investigation work has recently started on and offshore, which will give us further certainty about the foundation for the quay wall and the material that will be dredged. This information will complement the existing records and enable us to prepare to proceed with the main works,” he adds.
Bristol Port has appointed a consortium called Construct Bristol Terminal (CBT) under an early contractor involvement (ECI) professional services contract to carry out further site investigation work.
“Bristol is closer to more container destinations than any other deep water port, giving shippers and end customers major savings in both cost and CO2,”
This will reinforce existing records and thus help to develop the design and to provide costs and programmes for the build options that are available.
Chaplin says: “CBT is an expert consortium with exactly the skills needed for this task.
We have international civil engineering contractors Costain and Bam Nuttall together with major dredging specialists Westminster Dredging Co and Van Oord.”
A fundamental part of the works will be the construction of the quay wall.
Concrete caissons are one of the options being considered and traditional construction methods using Bristol Port’s own dry dock drove the preliminary programme.
However, innovative construction techniques have been identified that use floating platforms to produce the caissons and these can produce huge caissons in just two weeks.
“We are examining all the different construction options so that the build timescale can be flexed to suit the requirements of the market,” comments Chaplin.
The market imperative is what this project is all about.
The anticipated date for the terminal to begin operations is 2015, but this may change depending on global trading conditions.
“Bristol is closer to more container destinations than any other deep water port, giving shippers and end customers major savings in both cost and CO2,” says Chaplin.
The capacity of the new terminal, coupled with our unique ability to access rail and motorway connections right at the port, will give shipping lines and customers a major advantage in cutting distribution time, costs and carbon emissions.
“This is why we’re confident that whatever the global economy throws at us, Bristol’s new container terminal will provide the much-needed facility for our customers.”