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Charting a Greener Course

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APM Terminals transforms Khalifa Bin Salman Port into a beacon of renewable energy.

By Raji Unnikrishnan

In an era where sustainability and innovation intersect, APM Terminals emerges as a beacon of progress, spearheading the transformation of Khalifa bin Salman Port (KBSP) into the region’s premier fully energy-efficient hub. With solar panels being laid and a robust three-tier sustainability policy in place, APM Terminals chief finance officer and decarbonisation head Farooq Zuberi, provides insights into the port’s evolution, emphasising its steadfast commitment to safety, efficiency, and reliability.

In an interview with Bahrain This Week, Mr Zuberi said that the port gears up to harness renewable energy with plans to install 26,000 solar panels across its six zones and four warehouses, generating 11.4 megawatts of power, a monumental step towards energy self-sufficiency. A ceremonial scheduled later this year will mark this significant milestone in the port’s journey towards sustainable energy utilisation, revealed Mr Zuberi.

“The vision for Khalifa bin Salman Port (KBSP) is not only aligned with the goals of the Bahraini government but also stands as a shining example of a successful public-private partnership,” said Mr Zuberi.

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Port operations in Bahrain underwent privatisation, following the implementation of Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 in 2008 by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. This aimed at the diversification of the economy and driving sustainable growth. The KBSP, inaugurated in 2009, was a modern alternative to the Mina Salman Port, which used to cater to the shipping needs of the country, until then. It holds a pivotal role in Bahrain’s economy, serving as the primary gateway for approximately 90 per cent of goods imported into the country. Its strategic location and efficient operations contribute significantly to Bahrain’s GDP growth, making it a key player in the nation’s economic landscape. APM Terminals, part of the A P Moller-Maersk group, a globally recognised company known for its expertise in port management, was selected to oversee KBSP, which was granted a 25-year concession to oversee the operations on behalf of the Bahraini government. APM Terminal’s involvement ensures that operations are not only efficient but also tailored to meet the specific needs of local manufacturers and traders, facilitating timely and seamless supply chain solutions.

“Over the past 15 years, APM Terminals has played an integral role in supporting Bahrain’s infrastructure development initiatives,” said Mr Zuberi.
“This includes partnering in major projects such as airport expansions and refinery modernisations, where the efficient importation of equipment and machinery was crucial for project success.”

SAFETY

APM Terminal’s involvement in KBSP not only underscores its commitment to supporting Bahrain’s economic growth but also highlights its dedication to upholding the highest standards of safety and operational excellence. Recognising the inherent risks associated with port operations, the company has implemented stringent safety measures to protect its workforce.

“From providing essential personal protective equipment to conducting regular safety committee meetings and safety briefings before operations, APM Terminals prioritises the well-being of its employees above all else,” said Mr Zuberi.

“As a group we have adopted and integrated the Kaizen philosophy of perpetual improvement which in our business means that we continually assess the success and failure of every product and every process to each time better streamline efficiency and improve ourselves as we grow. We also do Gemba visits around the port where senior leadership team along with frontline employees visit all areas of operation and assist any risks or hazards as well as areas where we can improve. Furthermore, APM Terminals fosters a culture of continuous improvement and knowledge sharing across its global network of ports. By collaborating with industry-leading partners and sharing best practices, the company ensures that safety standards remain consistently high across all its operations worldwide.”

EFFICIENCY

Efficiency and reliability are not just buzzwords but cornerstones of the operational philosophy at KBSP, said Mr Zuberi. He further explained that, as an operator, APM Terminal’s commitment to these principles stems from a dual imperative: meeting customer demands for seamless operations and aligning with the government’s strategic vision for a robust and forward-looking port infrastructure.

“At KBSP, efficiency is not just a goal but a relentless pursuit—a commitment to delivering world-class service and upholding Bahrain’s reputation as a premier maritime hub,” he said.

“APM Terminals, through its dedication to efficiency and reliability, aims at setting new benchmarks in port operations and contributing to the sustained growth and prosperity of the kingdom. In the dynamic landscape of global trade, speed and reliability are non-negotiables. Customers expect nothing less than swift and efficient handling of their cargo, and we are dedicated to exceeding these expectations. By prioritising efficiency, we not only enhance customer satisfaction but also contribute to the overall economic prosperity of Bahrain.”

Detailing the noteworthy achievements in this regard, Mr Zuberi cited that, with an average crane productivity of 35 moves per hour, the port ranks among the top performers in the region.

“This metric reflects the speed and agility with which we handle cargo, ensuring minimal delays and maximum throughput. Furthermore, our zero-vessel waiting time underscores our commitment to prompt vessel servicing, eliminating unnecessary wait times, and streamlining port operations.”

Truck turnaround times are another area of focus for the operator, he pointed out. “Recognising the critical role of trucking in the logistics chain, we strive to minimise waiting times to less than 30 minutes,” he said.
“This proactive approach not only reduces congestion at the port but also enhances the efficiency of our partners in the trucking industry. However, our pursuit of excellence does not end here. We continuously explore avenues for improvement, leveraging technology and innovation to optimise our processes further. From automation initiatives to workforce development programmes, we invest in strategies that drive operational excellence and ensure our port remains at the forefront of global trade.”

SOLAR ENERGY

APM Terminals which is set to become region’s first fully solar energy-powered seaport by the third quarter of the year, adopts a ‘three-tiered’ approach — decarbonisation, electrification, and energy optimisation—which forms the cornerstone of its sustainability mission. In May last year, APM Terminals unveiled a groundbreaking solar power project valued at approximately BD3.8 million ($10 million), set to render KBSP energy self-reliant by the end of 2024.

Renewable energy is a key pillar of our decarbonisation plan for the port. We plan to decarbonise our energy supply via the solar project. Since its launch last year, significant strides have been made towards its realisation,” noted Mr Zuberi.

“We have diligently advanced through various stages, from appointing contractors and consultants to obtaining approvals from Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) and finalising designs. We remain grateful to the support from the government in rolling out our ambitious project. Currently, active engineering work is underway, with the necessary materials being imported and initial solar panel installations already underway. The meticulous planning and collaboration with our partners have laid a solid foundation for the project’s execution phase, which is now in full swing. Anticipating completion by the third quarter of this year, we are excited to announce that all six zones and four warehouses will be equipped with solar panels— totalling 26,000+ panels generating 11.4 megawatts of power, effectively fulfilling our energy requirements, and making KBSP the first port in the region to be fully powered by renewable energy.”

Expected to slash carbon emissions by 60pc, the initiative aligns with global decarbonisation objectives, aiming for net zero by 2040. This move echoes Bahrain’s commitment to sustainability, echoing the visions of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the carbon-neutral pledge by Crown Prince and Prime Minister His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to cut emissions by 30pc by 2035 and achieve net zero by 2060.

“While Bahrain targets a 30pc reduction by 2035 and net zero by 2060, we have set more ambitious goals, aiming for net zero by 2040.” explained Mr Zuberi.
“Our solar project alone will slash emissions by 60pc by year-end. The remaining 40pc reduction will involve transitioning equipment like yard cranes and terminal tractors to electrified options, a crucial part of our decarbonisation strategy. Additionally, we’re implementing industry-leading energy optimisation practices to further curb energy consumption. This three-tiered approach—renewable energy, electrification, and energy optimisation—forms the cornerstone of our sustainability mission.”

Mr Zuberi highlighted the communitywide effects of the mission, emphasising that Bahrain’s proactive approach to embracing innovative technologies and staying abreast of global trends will establish it as a trailblazer in sustainable endeavours. “Transitioning to cleaner energy sources will undoubtedly yield positive outcomes for our community,” he said.
“Diesel-operated equipment, commonly used in heavy machinery, not only emits harmful pollutants but also poses health risks due to concentrated emissions. By embarking on a decarbonisation journey and embracing clean electricity alternatives, we are prioritising the well-being of our community. This shift will not only mitigate climate change but also significantly improve public health. Furthermore, staying ahead of global trends and adopting innovative technologies will position Bahrain as a leader in sustainable practices, benefiting society as a whole.”

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