Beirut Port’s expanded terminal will open in November, more than doubling the facility’s capacity.

The upgrade will increase capacity from 700,000 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) to 1.5 million TEUs.  The inauguration date of the port has been slightly delayed from the originally planned launch date in October.

The port’s operator, Beirut Container Terminal Corporation, has already started using about 180 metres of the expanded quay ahead of the official opening.

Work on the expansion scheme involved the reclamation of land, construction of an extra 500 metres of quayside and installation of an additional six ship-to-shore cranes. The total length of the expanded container terminal quay will be 1,100 metres.

All the equipment, including a further 20 gantry cranes, have now been delivered to Beirut.

The additional capacity is much needed as the port has recorded rising container volumes so far in 2013. The difficulty in shipping goods into Syria due to the ongoing conflict and sanctions has been seen as driving growth in the facility.  

“These sanctions have made Beirut Port the only gateway for all kinds of cargoes destined for Syria,” says Elie Zakhour, head of the Beirut International Chamber of Navigation.

Traffic through the port rose by 25 per cent in August, compared with the same month last year. A total of 69,099 TEUs were recorded in August, compared with 55,031 TEUs in the same period in 2012.