26 July 2023
This article was first published in the July/August 2023 issue of Port Strategy and is reproduced here by kind permission of Mercator Media: full digital edition
By leveraging the skills and experience of maritime consultants, these ports can uncover hidden value and pave the way for sustainable growth. Within this scenario, there is also the important aspect that where asset replacement is concerned – for example harbour tugs and pilot boats – ports can ensure the charges levied against their use are adequate to facilitate timely replacement.
To a great extent, the ‘old rules’ governing small port asset valuation are no longer comprehensive enough. Smaller port valuations and investment has been progressively shaken up by revolutions in energy, mobility, and digitisation over the past decade. These revolutions are introducing new dynamics across the breadth of existing port infrastructure investments that previously appeared almost impervious to change. At the same time, economic and social transformations are introducing new types of investments that represent opportunity and efficiency for operators.
As a result, operators of smaller ports need to change with these ‘new dynamics’ in order for them to stay relevant, progress and ultimately survive. Drawing on specialist advice and technical expertise from Port and Maritime Infrastructure consultants BMT, the following elaborates how small ports can stay ahead of the curve and be able to sustain their roles as important supply chain partners, in addition to diversifying themselves to become strategic economic development actors in the highly contested waters’ space.
To manage the ‘new dynamics’ introduced by the energy transition and other structural changes, operators need to move beyond the historical valuations approach that focused almost exclusively on relatively static technical assessments and financial models. Today, other factors need to be layered on for a full-picture understanding. This is partly due to the turbulence and turmoil linked to significant inflation, increases in interest rates, declining equity markets, and a looming threat of recession which comes on the heels of the deep disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To a great extent, these structural shifts in the economic environment are becoming more and more uneven and harder to recover from.
Asset valuation serves as a vital tool for understanding the worth and potential of a port’s infrastructure, facilities, and surrounding resources. This process goes beyond financial figures and models for smaller ports, encompassing various factors that influence the port’s overall value.
Maritime consultancy firms specialising in asset valuation bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, allowing smaller ports to unlock their true potential in today’s world. By leveraging their expertise, these firms offer several key benefits:
To conclude, asset valuation is a crucial step in unlocking the potential of smaller ports. These ports can leverage expert knowledge and insights by engaging maritime consultancy firms to accurately assess their assets’ value. Through comprehensive evaluations, strategic planning, and collaboration with stakeholders, smaller ports can maximise their potential, attract investor interest and investments (for instance, via public funding agencies such as World Bank and ADP), and become vital contributors to regional and global trade.
By paying heed to the guidance of maritime consultants, these ports can often benefit by achieving higher valuations and securing public/private investor interest facilitated by a strong focus on enhancing their competitiveness, sustainability, climate change resilience, supply chain resilience, digitisation (operational efficiency) and decarbonisation efforts. Ultimately, this will enable them to efficiently plan ahead and to support their growing passenger/cargo volumes. Port managers can also navigate more confidently and freely amongst a vast proliferation of invisible and hybrid mix of opaque/transparent sea threats, seize opportunities, and chart a course toward long-term success and sustainability.
Brad Saunders has over 35 years experience as a civil engineer and over 30 years as a coastal and maritime engineering specialist with experience in the Engineering Consulting industry to the Oil & Gas, Minerals & Energy, Ports & Harbour and Coastal Facilities sectors including recreational boating facilities. Roles have included Operations Director and Technical Director in support of coastal engineering, port planning and design, and dredging within a specialised engineering practice.
He has filled a number of Director roles including Technical Director, Operations Director, Managing Director, Trustee and Board Chairman and been responsible for management of technical, financial, technical assurance and capability, and risk performance. He has overseen engineering practice management systems development, implementation and management.
As a Technical and Project Director, Brad has been able to apply a wide variety of his technical skills and experience across the specialised Coastal and Maritime disciplines of Civil Engineering including physical and numerical modelling studies of site wave climate and sediment transport, coastal and port planning studies, residential canal developments and marinas, and structural design and detailing of marine and other civil structures, navigation infrastructure design and planning, moorings and navigation aids.
He currently holds the position of Technical Lead APAC - Coastal and Maritime Engineering as part of a large team of specialist Coastal and Maritime Engineers in the region, and is BMT's Project Director with technical and corporate oversight of the coastal and ocean engineering design of a number of projects in the region.
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