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Face of Vietnam’s sea port  up to 2030
By DoanhNhan News, No.34, 25 Aug 2009


The 2020 up-to and 2030-bound planning of sea port system development in Vietnam has just been submitted to the Prime Misnister by the Ministry of Transport. The face of 2030 up-to sea port system has been obviously sketched on adequate basis of arguement and reality.


The planning of sea port system development, according to Mr Nguyen Manh Ung – Deputy Director of Portcoast Consultant Corporation (Portcoast), is an open planning upon which investors are entitled to consideration of investment decisions and unbound with excessively specific regulations of detailed and technical aspects. For instance, if the previous planning put forth “ceiling” rate of the capacity of vessel accommodation, the draft planning brought out “floor” rate, which helped to maximally exploit resources of sea ports, as to be in service of development process and international economic integation.


Poor in infrastructure, poor in productivity.


In general, Vietnam’s sea port system, over the past time, has played a positive role in the economic growth and initially met the demand of the country’s economic development. The expected total volume of cargos for phase 2010 in the approved planning is relatively reasonable, however, the expected volume in the previous planning (approved in 1999), if in terms of port complex each and cargo types, was much lower than that in reality (cargo throughput in Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh ports in 2007 exceeded the forecasted figures for 2010).


According to specialists, even though the importance of sea port system has recently been under very obvious awareness, Vietnam’s sea port infrastructure is still weak in quality, poor in technology compared to the requirement and the regional countries. “We are in sharp lack of berths for large vessels, especially for container vessels’ far operation. Berths for over 50.000 DWT vessels account for only 1.37% and mainly for general cargos; 21.43% for 20.000 – 50.000 DWT vessels (15.9% for general cargo); 39.73% for 10.000 – 20.000 DWT vessels (24.31% for general cargo); and 38.49% for less-than-10.000 DWT vessels (24.85% for general cargo)” said Mr Nguyen Manh Ung.


Additionally, upon the Ministry of Transport’s recent survey, exclusive of berths which have been well-equipped with relatively modern handling machineries (berths having just been constructed and come into operation for 3 years), almost all remaining berths are still equipped with unmodern handling machineries. Also, the process of handling, maintaining, delivering and receiving cargos is run in poverty of technology. Consequently, the average capacity of general cargo handling attains only 2.000 – 3.000 T/m, 12 – 15 barrels/crane/hour for container cargo, equal to about 50% - 60% compared to the regional modern ports.


Unsynchronous, Uneconomical.


Navigation channel is of very importance to sea ports. It looks like a bridge which can not display its role unless there is a smooth access road, said Mr Ung, a senior specialist on waterway port design and planning. According to Mr Ung, channel standard is presently not matching the scale of berths; dredging is being unpunctually executed; the improvement is in slow process, which have considerable influences on port system’s operation. On the other hand, technical infrastructure system in service of ports’operation (electricity, water, communications, sound roads and railways connecting to National network, …) is not in synchronism with ports in terms of the scale and time of operation.


Another typical example is that: whislt SP-PSA international terminal was going to be accomplished and in need of electricity as to come into operation, there was still no detailed planning on power supply for sea ports along Thi Vai – Cai Mep river, in spite of having been asked for consideration before. Upon such emergency, an official document was prepared and submitted to People’s provincial committee for the approval to the detailed planning on power supply for sea ports by Industry and Trade Service. Consequently, the detailed planning on power supply for sea ports along Thi Vai – Cai Mep river (the section through Tan Thanh district) was approved in August, 2009 by People’s provincial committee, with the total construction investment capital for 220 Kv main axis wire line of over 91 billion VND. However, according to Electricity Company in Ba Ria – Vung Tau, owing to lack of scheme, the company was not financed and unable to execute power network construction in service of ports in 2009.


How many ports should be constructed?


Quantitively, it is supposed that there are so many ports in Vietnam and their operation capacity is unreally redundant. Meanwhile, deep-water ports are insufficient for large vessels’operation, especially for container vessels’ far operation.


Based on the report of new planning submitted to the Prime Minister, it is required to obviously determine two types of port: general and specific port. Upon the planning, general port is prior for concentration of adjustment while delicated port should be seen to be a section with concrete scope decided by a project owner on the basis of socio-economic development planning.   


Among general ports, it should be divided into 3 main types: international transit port, international hub port and local port. “At the rate of current development, only 3 – 4 international ports should be developed and such ports have to be large-scale and modern. Japan, a sea superpower, has only 30 international ports among 3000 ports” said Mr Ung.


Also, the specialist has paid much attention to Van Phong port (Khanh Hoa) as an international transit port. The port consists of three important areas. Dam Mon berth area is used for international container transit, in main service of large vessels and extremely large vessels with the capacity of more than 9.000 TEU (even international gateway ports find it difficult to accommodate such vessels). This is the center of transiting import/export cargos by containers which are navigated on transoceanic channels in Vietnam and the regional countries. Nam Vinh – Van Phong berth area (can accommodate 400.000 DWT vessels), which is used for crude oil and oily product transit, with inland customs depot in Hon My Giang, in combination with specific berth for petroleum refinery, is intended to be constructed. The third is specific berth area which is used for thermoelectric Plant, sea vessel repair and plating and other industries and can accommodate 50.000 – 10.000 DWT vessels; and satellite local berth in service of 2.000 – 10.000 DWT vessels in Tay Nam, Van Phong Bay (Ninh Thuy – Doc Ket – Hon Khoi).

The 2015 up-to investment project of Van Phong port is mainly characterized by synchronous construction of berths in starting stage, which is considered to be a basic premise as well as a strong motive for Van Phong economic Zone’s development, making a port and marine economic break-through in maritime strategy.    


Relocation and business conversion of existing ports.


Not only new development but also relocation and business conversion of several existing ports are the hot issues to Vietnam. For this reason, most important ports are located deep into rivers and near urban residential areas, which makes difficulties in the improvement and reclaimation of navigation channels and post-port transport network. As thus, relocation and business conversion of ports and berths should be executed towards the sea, in order to minimize barriers as well as obstacles for vessel navigation and to motivate industrial zones and seaside cities’ development. Most areas of land in ports to be relocated will be converted into public works in accordance with cities’ general planning.


For detail, from now until 2010, relocation and business conversion will be centrally applied to B12-Cai Lan oil port (as to secure safety for Bai Chay bridge and berths’operation in the Bay). The replacement location is Hon Quan Muon in Chanh estuary. The berth area on Cam river in Hai Phong port, which is currenly located deep in the city, is to be replaced by Dinh Vu location and the right bank of Bach Dang river. In Center, coming into prominence is Nha Trang – Ba Ngoi port area, which is converted into a tourist calling center and Ba Ngoi berth is in charge of cargo handling. The berth area on Sai Gon river, Nha Be in Ho Chi Minh port is being relocated and of business conversion according to Decision No. 791/QĐ-TTg dated 08/12/2005 by the Prime Minister. In Binh Thuy berth area in Can Tho port, the business of small berths lying deep in the city is intended to be converted and new development locations are to be Tra Noc – O Mon and Cai Cui at the downstream of Can Tho bridge.



Rate of berth

Unit: (%)

10.000 – 20.000 DWT                                  Over 50.000 DWT

Less than 10.000 DWT                                 20.000 – 50.000 DWT


Investment capital of sea port system


The expected total investment capital up to 2030 is 810 – 990 thousand million VND (360 – 440 thousand million VND up to 2020) as to target the foresaid sea port system development.

The budget’s capital accounts for about 12% - 15% of the total investment capital, mainly for post-port public infrastructure system network and other systems in starting stage of master plans

Enterprises’mobilized capital for port investment up to 2030 wins about 715 – 840 thousand million VND (about 515 – 370 thousand million VND up to 2020).




Number of ports: Vietnam’s sea port system, presently, wins 49 sea ports, including 17

sea ports as type 1; 23 sea ports as type 1 and 9 sea ports as type 3 (offshore petroleum port). The total is 126 berths, specific berths included. Sea ports are regionally divided into 8 groups.

Cargo throughput:

Total cargo throughput in 2007: 181, 116 million TEU

Total cargo throughput in 2008: 196, 580 million TEU

Average growth rate in 2002 – 2008 period: 12,11% (for cargo throughput); 12,55% (for dry cargos); 1,56% (for fluid cargos); 10,2% (for transit cargos)

Ports of highest throughput capacity.

03 ports of throughput capacity of over 20 million TEU/year: Ho Chi Minh port: 69,56 million TEU (38,4% of the whole country); Hai Phong port: 25,95 million TEU (13,8% of the whole) and Ba Ria-Vung Tau port: 24,87 million TEU (13,7% of the whole, with 14,7 million TEU of offshore crude oil included).

04 ports of throughput capacity of 4.0 – 6.5 million TEU/year: Da Nang port, Quy Nhon port, Nha Trang – Ba Ngoi port, Dong Nai port.

05 ports of throughput capacity of 1.0 – 3.0 million TEU/year: Nghi Son (Thanh Hoa); Can Tho; Binh Tri (Kien Giang); Cua Lo (Nghe An); Vung Ang (Ha Tinh).

04 ports of throughput capacity of 0.5 – 1.0 million TEU/year: Thua Thien Hue (with Chan May included); An Giang; Quang Ngai; Tien Giang.

Biggest port complex:

Regionally, cargo throughput is done mainly in Hai Phong – Quan Ninh, Ho Chi Minh, Dong Nai and Ba Ria – Vung Tau complexes.

SOS in Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh ports

General container cargo throughput in 2007 in Hai Phong port of group 1 and Ho Chi Minh port of group 5 has exceeded the forecasted number of the year 2010.




For navigation channels: Hai Phong and Cai Mep – Thi Vai channels into Vung Tau, Dong Nai ports; Soai Rap river into Ho Chi Minh port; Hau river’s estuary into the Mekong Delta.

For general ports: starting stage of Van Phong international transit port and Lach Huyen area, Hai Phong international gateway port; Cai Mep, Phu My – Thi Vai berth area, Vung Tau international gateway port; Hiep Phuoc berth area, Ho Chi Minh port; Cai Cui berth, Can Tho port.

For specific ports: specific berth area, Nghi Son – Thanh Hoa refinery factory; Long Son – Ba Ria Vung Tau; specific berth area of Son Duong – Ha Tinh, Ke Ga – Binh Thuan, Ca Na – Ninh Thuan complexes; ore receipt centers in service of thermoelectric Plant in Nghi Son, Thanh Hoa, Son Duong Vung Anh – Ha Tinh, Vinh Tan – Binh Thuan, the Mekong Delta’s East and West.



billion VND is the expected investment capital

of sea port system up to 2020

Cargo handling capacity of Vietnam’s ports wins only about 60% of that of modern ports.

From now to 2020: Vietnam should develop only 3 – 4 modern international ports.


By Ngoc Khanh
(Translated by Portcoast)


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