Maersk Expands Tangiers Med Terminal as Port's Transshipment Role Grows

Tangier Med
APM added capacity at Tangier Med as the port grows as a transshipment hub (APM)

Published Dec 18, 2023 6:36 PM by The Maritime Executive


Maersk’s terminal operations company APM Terminals has completed the next step in a multiphase program to dramatically expand the capabilities of the Tangier Med Port. Already recognized as one of the fastest-growing and most efficient ports, they look to expand the port’s capacity reflecting the growth in ships and the role the port plays in regional shipments.

Launched just four and a half years ago, the APM Terminals MedPort Tangier has quickly emerged as a key player in the near-shoring strategy of the industry. Located at the Strait of Gibraltar it has developed as one of the leading transshipment locations for cargoes moving on vessels to and from Africa, Europe, and the Far East. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Review of Maritime Transport 2022 highlighted that between the third quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2022, the deployed capacity of container ships in Morocco increased by a third, mostly driven by the ongoing development of Tangier Med.

The port’s emergence earned it a unique position in the EU’s new emissions trading scheme launching at the first of the year. The carbon emission fees were extended to Tangier Med because of its proximity to the EU and its role in transshipments. It had been feared carriers might seek to use the port's capabilities to avoid some of the emission fees.

The APM facility already had a three-berth capacity with the ability to handle five million TEUs annually. As the port’s growth continued, they launched the second phase development program in April 2021. This phase has been completed adding another one million TEU capacity to the port. The expansion includes an additional 18 hectares, with seven additional container stacks and an additional 1,300-foot (400-meter) berth. It also adds electric equipment, shore power, and auto-mooring capabilities.

The four new remote-controlled, ship-to-shore cranes are among the largest in the world, with an 82-meter reach meaning they can service the largest containerships in the world which are 26 containers in width. The new equipment for Phase 2 also includes 14 electric automated rail-mounted gantry cranes and 11 semi-automated hybrid shuttle carriers

The terminal has also installed an auto-mooring system using automated vacuum pads along the extended part of the quay. This will reduce the time taken by vessels to moor and release, with idle times estimated to be reduced to around 15 minutes at both arrival and departure and reducing time spent by tugs in port. Once ships are moored, active hydraulics significantly reduce vessel motion which will help to improve productivity levels above the 34 crane moves per hour already achieved for larger vessels. Together with the port authority, the company is also carrying out infrastructure upgrades to provide shore power for ships on dock. 

With the second phase expansion officially completed the terminal is moving into a third phase of expansion. Due to be completed in 2025, it will cover an additional 17.5 Hectares and add another 1,300 feet (400 meters) to the berths. Phase 3 will increase the total capacity by an additional one million TEU.