Efforts Proceed for Morocco’s New Transshipment Nador West Deepwater Port

Morocco Nador West Med port
Nador West Med will provide a large new port for container transshipments near Gibraltar (EBRD photo)

Published Jun 27, 2024 5:50 PM by The Maritime Executive


After more than a decade of planning, progress is being made in the development of Morocco’s new Mediterranean port called Nador West Med. The first phase of the port is expected to be commissioned in 2027 increasing Morocco’s role in the growing transship container trade as well as providing additional capacity for wet and dry bulk.

The state-owned Nador West Med company awarded the first port concession focusing on container operations. They selected a domestic company, Marsa Maroc, which currently operates 24 terminals in 10 ports including the third terminal at Tangier Med, another leading transshipment port. The company received a 25-year concession and is committing €200 million toward the development of Nador West Med.

North Africa’s transshipment ports are taking on a new critical role in 2024. The closing of the Red Sea meant that containerships were diverting not following normal routes that went to ports ranging from Greece to Italy and others along the Mediterranean. Many carriers have chosen to transship containers from ports such as Tangier Med into the eastern Mediterranean and as a result, Tangier Med and others are experiencing backlogs and congestion due to the high volumes. In addition, the new EU carbon fees were also anticipated to drive more volumes into the transshipment ports as carriers worked to manage under the Fit for 55 emissions regulations and fees.

Marsa Maroc highlights that in just over three years it has grown the container transshipment business in Tangier Med where it is in partnership with Hapag-Lloyd, Eurogate International, and Contship Italia. They report a volume of 1.5 million TEU after just three years.

The new port which is designed to strengthen Morocco’s maritime and port role is located less than 250 miles from the Strait of Gibraltar on Betoya Bay. The government’s plans call for 1,520 meters (approximately 5,000 feet) of quay at a depth of nearly 60 feet. This would provide a capacity to handle 3.4 million TEU annually and they could add 4,000 feet to increase capacity by an additional 2 million TEU.

Marsa Maroc highlights that the terminals in the two ports will provide nearly 5 million TEU capacity for transshipment and a total handling capacity of 6.5 million TEU.

Plans for Nador West Med also include an oil terminal that would be able to handle 25 million tonnes annually. The coal terminal will have a capacity of 7 million tonnes and they also anticipate up to 3 million tonnes of general cargo.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) committed in 2015 to provide a €200 million loan for the development of the port. In December 2022, they provided the second tranche under the agreement providing €100 million to Nador West Med for the construction of the port. EBRD also provided technical cooperation with €1 million to assess the port’s role in the oil shipping market.