MSC Acquires Sole Ownership of Two Le Havre Terminals for Expansion

MSC Le Havre France container terminal expansion
MSC plans to invest in Le Havre terminals to support expansion (Terminaux de Normandie)

Published Jul 11, 2022 5:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

MSC will be undertaking a major investment at the Port of Le Havre, France over the next six years to expand the container handling capabilities of two of the port’s terminals with the goal of making the port a gateway to North-West Europe. The expansion effort, which is aligned with MSC’s fleet expansion, comes as many of northern Europe’s ports are experiencing record congestion and backlogs and struggling to accommodate future growth.

Terminal Investment Limited (TiL), an MSC subsidiary that owns and operates terminals worldwide, announced that it has become the sole owner of both the larger TNMSC, which was started a decade ago as a joint venture between MSC and Terminaux de Normandie, and the adjacent Terminal Porte Océane (TPO) which had been owned with Ocean Terminal. The change of ownership clears the way for MSC to make an approximately $700 million investment to expand and modernize the terminals. 

The TNMSC terminal, which has been MSC’s gateway at the port is currently capable of handling 1.5 million TEU annually with 4,600 feet of dock for four berths able to handle vessels with a capacity of up to 20,000 TEU. The facility covers approximately 175 acres. Adjacent to it is the smaller TPO terminal that can currently handle two ultra-large containerships and move approximately 550,000 TEU annually. There is also a third container terminal at Le Havre, operated by DP World, is not included in the new investment agreement.

Last year, Le Havre handled nearly 2.8 million TEU which was up more than 15 percent over 2020. According to port officials, the port is ideally positioned to serve as a primary facility in Northern Europe as well as a location for transshipment operations to areas such as Ireland. 

“The ambitious modernization plans are the result of a historic agreement between the Dockers Workers' Union of the Port of Le Havre CGT, TiL, and the TPO/TNMSC terminals,” said HAROPA PORT which manages the French port. Le Havre is the tenth largest port in Europe and with both Rotterdam and Antwerp running out of yard capacity and reporting backlogs the expansion is well-timed to support MSC’s future growth.

MSC has entered into long-term agreements with the terminals for container volumes to be handled at the port. TiL said it will prepare for the increased volumes by doubling the number of ship-to-shore gantry cranes, increasing it to 20 total. They plan to place the order for the first nine cranes in the near future. They also plan to install fleet gantries at all six berths.

Yard capacity for the two terminals will also be tripled. The vessel handling capabilities will also be expanded so that the berths can accommodate MSC’s newest class of 24,000 TEU vessels. They also plan to provide shore power connections at the berths. 

"By implementing this initiative, we will be able to grow and densify our capacity to help Le Havre become an even more significant access point for the French cargo market, and beyond,” said Ammar Kanaan, CEO of TiL. “In order to realize Le Havre’s full potential as a gateway to Europe, we are counting on the French government’s support for the development of the related intermodal rail infrastructure that will further enhance the link between our container terminals and European supply chains.”

The expansion project will be completed by 2028. As part of the long-term planning, the port will also investigate the integration of the container terminals with barge and rail transportation. The goal is to remove bottlenecks that currently exist on the roads.