Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is adjacent to the town of the same name in southeastern Karachi, Pakistan, on the Arabian Sea and the delta of the Indus River. Port Muhammad Bin Qasim was constructed in the 1970s to take some of the burgeoning traffic clogging the Port of Karachi. Today, it is Pakistan’s’ second biggest port.
The town and Port Muhammad Bin Qasim were named after Muhammad bin Qasim, 8th Century conqueror of much of what is today Pakistan. In 1998, the town was home to about 315 thousand people, most of them Muslim but from many different ethnic groups. Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is in the middle of a big industrial area that houses the Pakistan Steel Mills, the Zulfiqarabad Oil Terminal, and Pakistan Machine Tool Factory. Its neighboring towns, Rehri and Ibrahim Hyderi, are in the fishing industry.
The Port Qasim Authority manages Port Muhammad Bin Qasim. Pakistan’s second busiest port, it handles about 17 million tons of cargo per year, representing about 35% of the nation’s cargo. Located in an old dry channel of the Indus River, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is about 35 kilometers east of the city center of the Port of Karachi. Port Muhammad Bin Qasim covers over 400 hectares and abuts a 4.5-hectare industrial park.
Vessels approach Port Muhammad Bin Qasim through a 45-kilometer Navigation Channel that can accommodate vessels to 75 thousand DWT. Tidal variation at Port Muhammad Bin Qasim ranges from 0.5 to 3.5 meters. One of Port Muhammad Bin Qasim’s advantages its location near the national highway network (the National Highway is 15 kilometers away), the rail network (the National Railway is 14 kilometers away), and air transport (22 kilometers from Jinnah International Airport). The National Railway has six tracks immediately behind the berths.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is an integrated port handling ocean-borne trade with warehouse facilities. It also provides land and facilities to support the growth of port-based industry and commerce. Port facilities have been constructed by both public and private interests.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim handles a wide variety of cargoes. The major cargo groups include iron ore, edible oils, containers, coal, rice, jute, grain, chemicals, fertilizers, furnace oil, liquefied petroleum gas, and general cargo. In the 2006-2007 shipping season, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim handled a total of over 24.3 million tons of cargo on 1155 vessels, including almost 20.4 million tons of imports and nearly 4 million tons of exports. In the 2006-2007 shipping season, Berth 1 handled 1.6 million tons of liquid bulk including 1.4 million tons of edible oil and 120 thousand tons of chemicals. Berths 2, 3, and 4 handled 2.3 million tons of dry bulk, including 995 thousand tons of seeds/pulses, 408 thousand tons of rice, and 289 thousand tons of sugar as well as 531 thousand tons of varied cargoes and 92 thousand tons of wheat.
During that shipping season, Fotco Oil Terminal handled 8.4 million tons of oil, including almost 3.9 million tons of furnace oil and over 3.8 million tons of diesel oil. The Port Muhammad Bin Qasim’s Engro Vopak Terminal handled 791 thousand tons of chemicals and 24 thousand tons of liquefied petroleum gas. The Iron Ore and Coal Berth handled almost 2.4 million tons of cargo. The Port Muhammad Bin Qasim International Container Terminal handled 658 thousand TEUs of containerized cargo, including both imports and exports.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim contains nine berths that handle cargo. It contains a multi-purpose terminal with four multi-purpose berths, each 200 meters in length. The Qasim International Container Terminal has two berths, each 300 meters long. The Engro Vopak Chemical Terminal has one berth. Pakistan Steel Mills uses the 279-meter-long Iron Ore and Coal Berth. The Fotco Oil Terminal has one berth but has room to add another four.
The Multi-purpose Terminal at Port Muhammad Bin Qasim contains four berths of a total 800 meters long, each berth at 200 meters. Berth 1 can handle 2.5 million tons per year on vessels exceeding 25 thousand DWT that carry edible oils, molasses, and chemicals. Berths 2, 3, and 4 can handle from 5 to 6 million tons per year and can accommodate vessels over 35 thousand DWT carrying breakbulk and general cargo. Berths 2 and 4 include transit sheds of 10 thousand square meters each. A 240 thousand square meter backup area serves Berths 2, 3, and 4.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim’s International Container Terminal contains two container-handling berths that were converted from four former multi-purpose berths. The terminal is the country’s first dedicated international container terminal, and it has been operating since mid-1997. The terminal covers 240 thousand square meters and has capacity to handle 360 thousand TEUs per year. It can accommodate vessels to 272 meters long and up to 45 thousand DWT. The terminal has rail-mounted ship-to-shore gantry cranes.
The Engro Vopak Chemical Terminal at Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is an integrated bulk liquid chemical handling and storage terminal. Established in 1998 by a joint venture between Engro Chemical of Pakistan Limited and the Netherlands Royal Vopak, the terminal can handle 4 million tons of cargo per year. The jetty is located in the middle of Port Muhammad Bin Qasim’s channel and can accommodate vessels to 75 thousand DWT. Linked to an over 8 thousand square meter tank farm by a 1.1 kilometer trestle, products are off-loaded and transported through dedicated marine loading arms/hoses and transferred from the jetty to the mainland by pipelines. At present, the terminal has 19 storage tanks available.
Operating since 1980, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim’s Iron Ore and Coal Berth specializes in handling materials for Pakistan Steel Mills. Equipped with two grab unloaders, the berth has capacity to handle 1400 tons per hour and to handle a total of 3.36 million tons per year. Connected to the Pakistan Steel Stockyard by a 4.5-kilometer conveyor, vessels of 55 tons are using the berth today. Since it began operations, the berth has handled 48.5 million tons of cargo carried on 1124 ships.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim’s Fotco Oil Terminal has operated since 1995. This state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly terminal can handle 9 million tons of furnace oil per year, and there is room to add three more berths that would raise its capacity to 27 million tons per year. The facility’s jetty can accommodate vessels to 75 thousand DWT, and the terminal can berth tankers to 63 thousand DWT. Since it opened, the terminal has handled more than 29 million tons of furnace oil. In early 2001, it started handling white oil, and it has handled British Petroleum crude oil. Anticipating growth in Pakistan’s future needs for petroleum, the terminal can have four more berths and product pipelines. In addition, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim has set aside over 31 hectares of land for a POL Storage Tank Farm.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim has almost five thousand hectares of land dedicated for industrial or commercial complexes, 3.5 hectares of which have been allotted to a variety of enterprises. The government of Pakistan is planning a 500-hectare “Textile City.” In 2005, Pakistan Textile City Limited took possession of about 284 hectares.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is completing construction of a new Liquid Cargo Terminal to handle up to 4 million tons per year. Covering an area of more than 16.5 thousand square meters, the terminal will accommodate vessels to 35 thousand DWT.
Scheduled for completion in 2010, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is adding a second container terminal with capacity for almost 1.2 million TEUs under an agreement with Dubai Port World. Covering an area of 250 thousand square meters, the terminal will support 6000-TEU container vessels.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim signed an agreement in 2007 with Fauji Akbar Portia Marine Terminal Limited, a United Kingdom consortium, to build a new Grain and Fertilizer Terminal with capacity to handle 4 million tons per year. Design work is underway.
Working with Pakistan GasPort, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is adding a floating Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal that will handle 3 million tons per year and accommodate vessels to 75 thousand DWT. Initial detailed surveys have been completed, and the project is scheduled to be completed in late 2010. The M/s Granada Group of Companies is planning a new specialized Liquefied Natural Gas Floating Terminal that will handle 3.5 million tons per year. Technical proposals are being evaluated.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is adding a dedicated Coal, Clinker/Cement Terminal that will handle 4 million tons per year and accommodate vessels to 75 thousand DWT.
Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is also planning to add a second Oil Jetty to handle products from the proposed Indus Oil Refinery. The jetty will have capacity for 9 million tons per year and will accommodate vessels to 75 thousand DWT.
Pakistan Steel Mills has requested a second Iron Ore and Coal Berth at Port Muhammad Bin Qasim. The port is planning to add a facility, to be synchronized with expansions of the steel mills, with capacity for 8 million tons per year that can accommodate vessels to 75 thousand DWT.
In addition to these projects, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim is undertaking improvements at the port that include deepening and widening the navigation channel and completing the computerization systems supporting port operations.