Malaysia is one of the world’s fastest-growing, competitive economies with a significant position in the South East Asian region attributed to its location at the confluence of the intercontinental and intra-Asian maritime trade routes going through the Strait of Malacca. Hence, it is no surprise that Malaysia houses one of the biggest port facilities in the world. It is also a transhipment hub of the Asian region and a preferred point of entry into the South East Asian Market.
Boasting a highly developed maritime shipping sector, Malaysia has been ranked by UNCTAD as the fifth-best linked country in the world, in terms of shipping trade route connectivity, better than the developed economies of Germany and the Netherlands.
Malaysia is the biggest exporter of LNG in the world and possesses the world’s first floating LNG facility. It is also the largest palm oil producer, and subsequently the owner of the world’s biggest palm oil terminal. Due to the advantages of availability of land at affordable rates, infrastructural and technological developments prompted by a steadily growing economy, Malaysia might overtake the dominant port of Singapore in the future and handle the majority of Asia’s maritime cargo traffic.
In this article, let us have a look at the 7 major ports in Malaysia.
Klang port lies on the western shores of the Malaysian Peninsula, at the northern tip of Malacca Strait, linking the capital Kuala Lumpur with the South China sea. Known as the premier port of Malaysia, around 38% of the nation’s international maritime trade passes through this facility. More than 220 million tonnes of cargo was handled at this port in 2018.
Its location amidst the industrial region of Klang makes it pivotal for the national economy. In 2018, it handled around 12 million TEU and was ranked as the world’s 13th busiest container facility.
Klang port deals with exports of commodities such as timber, automobiles, rubber, liquid bulk such as latex, palm and coconut oil, petroleum goods, fuel and containerised goods. It handles imports of steel coils, rods, wires, billets, fruits, grains, machine equipment etc.
The port comprises 53 berths covering approximately 11.3 thousand m. Out of these, 24 berths are dedicated to container shipments, 11 berths handle breakbulk, 9 docks handle only liquid cargo and 7 are reserved for dry bulk goods. The port also has a facility for bunkering near the passenger berth, handling cruises and small boats. The port boasts an expansive storage area spanning more than 220 thousand sq m comprising transit sheds, warehouses and paved yards.
The Port’s container handling facilities are divided between Westport and Northport. The former comprises 9 container handling facilities capable of handling the world’s biggest container ships and handles around 75% of containers arriving at Port Klang. The latter has 4 container terminals spanning 2.5 km and can accommodate ships weighing not more than 200,000 DWT. Ro-Ro cargo witnessed a rise at the Northport leading the facility to become a crucial redistribution centre of automobiles in the region.
Port of Tanjung Pelepas
This port facility lies in the delta of the Pulai River in the state of Johor in the southern part of Malaysia. It is an important transhipment container facility that is linked with Singapore and Indonesia and is in close proximity to the international shipping routes of the Malacca Strait. Its favourable geographical location made it the 18th busiest container facility in the world, as it handled around 9 million TEU in 2018. A naturally protected harbour operated by the Johor Port Authority, it witnessed significant growth since its opening in 1999.
It is not a multipurpose port as it deals only with containerised goods. The port spans 1930 acres and comprises 14 container berths that can accommodate the biggest container ships. Interestingly, it was the world’s first facility where a cargo ship was loaded with more than 20,000 TEU.
The container storage facilities span 290 acres capable of storing 6 million TEUs. It also has more than 4000 reefer connections. The port berths’ are served by 140 gantry cranes, 350 trailers, 45 post-Panamax cranes etc. The port is being expanded to increase its container handling capacity to 145 million TEUs. A specially designed information technology system offering real-time container tracking and automated scanning has increased the port’s productivity manifold.
Port of Johor
Johor port is situated at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula, near Johor strait. It is an important maritime gateway for the country as it lies in the industrial region of Pasir Gudang which houses major industries like engineering, petrochemicals, electrical goods, furniture and packaged food.
Covering more than 1000 acres and comprising its 24 berths, this multipurpose port deals with all kinds of cargoes through its numerous dry bulk, liquid bulk and container handling facilities. The port is famous for its expansive storage space for keeping palm oil and is a major exporter of petrochemical goods. It had received accreditation from the London Metal Exchange for handling and storing all the non-ferrous metals. Imports of Rice and cocoa are handled only at this facility.
The port has recorded an annual cargo throughput of 29 million tonnes and has grown extensively since it became operational in 1977. The Container Terminal has achieved commendable growth with a current container handling capacity of more than 2 million TEUs. The terminal has 3 berths capable of accommodating ships weighing more than 100,000 DWT and a storage space spanning 70,000 sq m for keeping containers. The port also has one of the world’s most beautiful and technologically advanced ferry terminals.
Port of Penang
The Penang port is situated on the northeast coastline of Pulao Pinang, between the Penang island and the western shores of the Malaysian Peninsula. It is the country’s third-busiest container handling facility linked with the northern region of the nation and the southern states of Thailand.
The oldest port of Malaysia dealt with 33.9 million tonnes of cargoes and more than 1 million TEU in 2018. Additionally, it has also grown as a popular cruise destination.
The major export commodities include electrical goods, rubber, and packaged manufactured products. It handles imports of mainly petroleum goods, iron, steel and sugar and rice.
A multifunctional port, it deals with all kinds of conventional cargo, dry and liquid bulk, apart from containers. The port has 5 container terminals and 10 container berths spanning more than 1600 m. It has ample storage space covering more than 200,000 sq m. The breakbulk terminal comprises 4 dedicated berths while its 4 oil terminals handle refined oil, fuel and petroleum.
The port also has a cruise terminal with 4 wharves catering to the world’s largest cruise ships carrying more than 3000 tourists. The Penang Port Commission, responsible for port operations and management also operates a ferry terminal that connects the Penang island to mainland Malaysia.
Port of Bintulu
Lying on the western coastline of Sarawak, near the city of Bintulu, this port is the major maritime gateway to Eastern Malaysia, comprising the regions of Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan. Since it is located near the LNG manufacturing plants, about 76% of the cargo handled at this port comprises liquid bulk. It has also witnessed appreciable growth in container traffic in recent years and handled around 348,000 TEUs in 2018.
It is a multipurpose facility comprising 3 berths for handling conventional cargo, 2 berths for handling bulk and breakbulk, 7 jetties for accommodating LNG tankers and an expansive container terminal. The port’s cargo handling capacity is more than 69 million tonnes and it can handle more than 390 TEU annually.
It is a deepwater seaport that handles LNG, crude oil, LPG, urea, fertilisers, timber, palm oil, petroleum and its derivatives. The port is visited by more than 7000 ships every year.
Due to its strategic position offering maritime connections to the nearby Borneo island as well neighbours like Indonesia and the Philippines, it is expected to emerge as the region’s significant LNG trade centre. Work is underway for the expansion of its oil wharf and the container handling facility.
Port of Kuantan
This port is located at Tanjong Gelang and is locally known by this name. Functioning as the major facility on the eastern shoreline of the Malaysian Peninsula opening to the South China Sea, it is operated by Kuantan Port Consortium. Kuantan’s annual handling capacity is around 600,000 TEU and in 2018 its total annual cargo throughput stood at 26 million tonnes. More than 5000 vessels frequent this port every year.
More than 60% of cargo that passes through this port is dry bulk including ores and minerals such as Bauxite. Other goods such as chemicals, palm oil products, industrial goods, feedstock, fertilisers, steel coils, grains, biodiesel and containers are also handled at this port.
Kuantan port comprises 3 container berths, 3 liquid chemical handling facilities, 4 multipurpose berths, 3 specialised berths for handling palm oil, 1 mineral oil berth, and a service jetty. These berthing facilities span more than 3500 m.
Due to the increased cargo and container traffic witnessed at the port, it is undergoing expansion to accommodate the biggest carriers at some of its berths. Another container handling facility spanning 40 hectares is being constructed along with a 25-hectare container storage yard.
Port of Labuan
The Port of Labuan lies on the Eastern Malaysian island of Labuan near the South China Sea. It is an important regional port serving mainly the oil and gas industries. A naturally well-sheltered port, it is also a transhipment hub for Brunei, Sarawak and Sabah regions. The port dates back to the 18th century and was crucial for the British Empire.
Operated by the Labuan Liberty Port Management, it handles cargoes of container goods, oil, rattan, wood, textiles, decorative items, fruits, maize, hardware goods, canned food, electrical appliances etc.
The port’s dock has 4 berths handling general cargo, 15,000 sq m of open storage space, three warehouses and a container terminal with an annual handling capacity of 100,000 TEU. Labuan has 5 privately owned wharves handling specific cargoes. The Shell jetty for instance handles only petroleum while another wharf deals with iron ore shipments, capable of accommodating carriers weighing around 200,000 DWT. Another dock is dedicated to methanol while there are two berths for handling wheat and cereals. These berths cover more than 500 m with a depth ranging between 5 to 10 m.
Given the tremendous growth of this port, the government has planned an expansion project and a new wharf has already been constructed that can handle the biggest cargo ships.
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Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.