Port Taranaki’s investment in its future growth and sustainability has been highlighted in the company’s result for the first half of the 2018-19 financial year.
While revenue for the six months to 31 December 2018 was fairly stable at $23.7 million – down 2.5% on the $24.3m recorded for the equivalent period the previous year – the impact of increased operating expenditure resulted in net profit after tax dropping 35% to $4m.
Operating expenditure increased 14% to $17.3m as Port Taranaki undertook some extraordinary one-off expenditure, involving the repurposing of buildings and clearing of land to accommodate changing trade.
“We have made significant investments and changes to our business during the period to grow trade, adapt to changes in the shipping industry, meet our customers’ needs, and make us sustainable in the long term,” Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said.
“This work has included the removal of the coolstore on Blyde Wharf to allow for increased berth-side storage space for the growing log trade, the repurposing of the Craig Norgate Store to accommodate a customer’s requirement for greater on-site animal feed storage, and the removal of other buildings to allow space for future development or storage.”
Total trade volumes were down 10% to 2.6m tonnes through a combination of outages and maintenance shutdowns in the oil and gas sector, and reduced demand for supplementary animal feed. Bulk liquids trade was down 16% to 1.7m tonnes, while dry bulk was down 9% to 381,000 tonnes.
“The Pohokura gas pipeline outage and a maintenance shutdown at Methanex resulted in reduced production, while our dry bulk trade was down, but this must be viewed in context of the extraordinary trading conditions for the first half of last year,” Mr Roper said.
“During that period the hot and dry on-farm conditions resulted in a 53% rise in dry bulk trade as farmers looked to support stock with supplementary feed. This year we are at expectations, but the on-farm conditions meant the high levels of stock feed demand of the previous year was not repeated.”
As a result of the decreased oil and gas production and animal feed demand, total vessel visits were down 15% on the equivalent period.
The log business continues to shine, with another period of sustained growth recorded. Log volumes for the period were 425,000 JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard), up 82,000 JAS or 24%, with revenue increasing by 18% and log vessel visits up 53%.
“We expect this increased trade to continue and have therefore created greater storage space to meet this demand,” Mr Roper said.
Revenue from Port Taranaki’s offshore support business was up 9% on the same period last year, and this is forecast to continue as offshore maintenance and exploration activity resumes.
An interim dividend of $5.46m to Port Taranaki’s sole shareholder, the Taranaki Regional Council, has been approved.
Port Taranaki chairman Peter Dryden said it was expected that trading conditions in the second half of the year would soften, primarily because of further work being undertaken at Pohokura by OMV, and the weather affecting animal feed trade. However, total trade volumes were forecast to be consistent with prior years at above 5m tonnes.
“With the recent arrival of the COSL Boss rig for OMV signalling the start of potentially two years of offshore activity and the return to full production of the Pohokura field, the continual growth of the log business, and the important infrastructure changes that have been made to further develop and support trade, we believe Port Taranaki is in a solid position looking ahead,” Mr Dryden said.