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Approximately 60% of the Papua New Guinea
Port Infrastructure - population resides on coasts, rivers, and swamps suitable for water navigation. The state-owned enterprise, PNG Ports Corporation Limited (PNGPCL), operates 16 large ports, 14 of which support both foreign and coastal shipping. Lae is the largest port, followed by Port Moresby. PNGPCL provides services on a commercial basis, but only two or three of the largest ports recover operating costs. Mining, construction, shipping and other private companies operate 11 or more additional ports. There may be as many as 400 additional community-owned and operated piers, jetties and landings supporting small craft use in remote communities.
PNGPCL insists on the confidentiality of its port traffic indicators.
PNG’s primary port, Lae, suffers from insufficient wharf space, limited storage capacity, and the absence of large-scale container handling equipment, while the country’s many loss-making ports have excess capacity. PNGPCL has expanded and improved Lae’s wharves and ADB is funding further expansion of the port to include a tidal basin providing sufficient capacity from 2018.
Coastal shipping services are comprehensive, employing almost 250 vessels, some of which are containerized. These ships operate between the 17 ports along the coastline of the mainland and the islands. International shipping lines operate regular freight services to and from South East Asia, Japan, Europe, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Australia.
In terms of operations management, equipment, infrastructures and operating companies,
- 6 out of 16 ports are able to host significant (as for the country) emergency operations: Buka, Kieta, Lae, Madang, Port Moresby and Rabaul
- The remaining 10 have sufficient infrastructures to act as intermediate operational hubs: Aitape, Alotau, Daru, Kavieng, Kimbe, Lorengau, Oro Bay, Samarai, Wewak, and Vanimo. Nevertheless, as their equipment is good but basic (forklifts, trailers) and in limited quantities, special attention should be paid before operating emergency activities in those ports
From a general point of view, Lae is the biggest port of the country in terms of volume of operations. It is also the one that has the best internal organization (Port Moresby port facilities being often congested), mainly relying on international operators with strong capacities. This is due to the already effective LNG projects ongoing on the Northern part of the Papuan Island.
Analysis of the Port Sector
The port sector of Papua New Guinea (PNG) comprises 22 declared ports and many small wharves, jetties, and landing stages. Only the ports of Lae, Moresby, Madang, Kimbe, and Rabaul have appropriate port infrastructure and receive international as well as coastal traffic. Private organizations also establish and operate port facilities where government ports do not exist or where there are greater benefits. This is particularly the case for forestry, petroleum, mining companies, and some agricultural firms.
The fully state-owned PNG Ports Corporation Limited (PPCLPNGPCL) operates 16 of the 22 declared ports, including two ports operated by its agents. The other six declared ports are either being run by private entities or not operating. The PPCL
The PNGPCL-operated ports handle about 90% of international ships calling at PNG ports and 80% of PNG’s international and domestic cargo. The ports of Lae and Port Moresby alone account for more than 70% of the throughput of the declared ports.
Generic information on shipping services, cargo troughput and performance indicators for the port sector can be found in the following document:
Port of Lae
Key port information can also be found at:
The Port of Lae is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean on the mouth of the Markham River as it enters Huon Gulf in northeast Papua New Guinea. The Port of Lae is the capital of Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Province and the second biggest city in the country. It is located at the beginning of the Highlands Highway, the main land transportation artery from the highlands to the coast. The Port of Lae is Papua New Guinea’s main cargo port and the marketing centre for agricultural produce from the region. The primary commercial activities in the Port of Lae are based on timber, coffee, and plywood exports. In 2004, the Port of Lae was home to almost 110 thousand people.
Port website: Website of the Port of Lae
Port Location and Contacts
Papua New Guinea
Province or District
Town or City (Closest location) with Distance (km)
Port's Complete Name
|06° 44.0’ S|
|146° 59.0’ E|
Managing Company or Port Authority (If more than one operator, break down by area of operation)
|PNG Ports Corporation Ltd|
Management Contact Person
Closest Airport and Frequent Airlines to / from International Destinations
Airport Name: n/a
Description and Contacts of Key Companies
Container Traffic (TEUs)
Discharge Rates and Terminal Handling Charges
Information on discharge rates can be found in the following document:
Type of Berth
Maximum Draft (m)
see document below
see document below
see document below
see document below
*Two tugs operating • Privately owned and operated under license issued by the PNG Ports Corporation Limited • Arrangements can be made with Private Operators through the respective Shipping Agents.
The Port of Lae contains 619 m of berthing positions. Berths 1 and 2 at the Overseas Wharf are each 123 m long with alongside depth of 11 m. Berth 3 at the Overseas Wharf is 184 m long with alongside depth of 11 m. The Coastal Wharf contains Berths 4 and 5, both with alongside depth of 13 m. Berth 4 is 54 m long, and Berth 5 is 35 m long. The Tanker Berth is 100 m long with alongside depth of 10 m. The Barge Ramp is 12 m wide. Tidal range in the Port of Lae is 1.2 m.
Further information on Berthing Equipment & Specifications can be found in the following document: PNG Discharge Rates
Port Handling Equipment
The Port of Lae does not have wharf-mounted cranes; however, its mobile cranes have capacity for 20-ton containers. Heavier loads must be approved by the Port Authority before vessels enter the port. The Port of Lae’s Vigan Machine handles bulk cargoes of wheat and grain.
Following container service companies are operating in Lae seaport:
- All Shipping Agencies: www.australasialine.com/asp/index.asp
- Cosco: http://www.coscon.com/home.screen
- NYK: http://www.coscon.com/home.screen
(Yes / No)
Total Quantity and Capacity Available
Comments on Current Condition and Actual Usage
RoRo Tugmaster (w/ Trailer)
Grain Elevator w/ Bagging Machines
Owned by private companies
Forklifts are available and capable of lifting up to 20 tonne containers
Container Facilities Available
Container Freight Station (CFS)
Refrigerated Container Stations
Other Capacity Details
Daily Take Off Capacity (Containers per day)
25 per hour
Number of Reefer Stations (connection points)
Emergency Take-off Capacity (Give an indication)
Off take capacity of gang shift (in Containers per shift)
Further information on container facilities can be found in the following document:
Information on the oil handling terminal please select the following document:
Grain and Bulk Handling
The Port has a Vigan Machine and handles Bulk wheat and grain.
Bagging and grain handling capacities exist at private company level. Both Flour Mills have their own bagging system in place.
Main Storage Terminal
The Port of Lae offers over 53,500 m² of storage space. It contains over 14,200 m² of storage sheds. Sheds 1A and 1B each cover 1,330 m². Sheds 4, 6, and 7 are each 1,660 m². Shed 3 covers 4,850 m². Shed 5 is 660 m², and Shed 8 is 360 m². The Port of Lae also has 39,000 m² of open storage.
Under cover storage: 14,600 m², Open storage 39,000 m²
Stevedoring is ensured by private companies (annual licensing) in all ports of PNG. The majority of them are sub-companies of Steamships. All companies insist on the confidentiality of their tariffs and rates. Most of the time, stevedoring operations costs are included in the global service costs ensured by the sea transport companies.
Further information on stevedoring rates can be found in the following document:
(Yes / No)
Current ISPS Level
Level 1 = Normal, Level 2 = Heightened, Level 3 = Exceptional
About 90% of vessel calls and more than 80% of PNG’s international and domestic cargo are handled at PNGPCL-operated ports. The increase in cargo handled since 2002 is noticeable. The ports of Lae and Port Moresby account for over 70% of the total throughput. Kimbe represents 8%, and Rabaul 6%.
Performance Indicators and Analysis
The port sector is particularly critical for a country like PNG, a Pacific island country whose territory comprises the eastern half of New Guinea and 600 offshore islands. Of its 20 provinces, 15 are on the coast. More than 60% of the country’s 6 million people are widely dispersed across islands and coral atolls and along the banks of major rivers. There is no national rail or road network. Although 46 airports and numerous airstrips serve a network of scheduled, charter, and missionary air services, even to some very remote communities, air transport is too costly for any trips other than emergencies.
Coastal trade, particularly outbound container cargo from Lae to other PNG ports, has been growing rapidly since 2001. Full outbound containers that year numbered 13,395 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU); by 2005 they totaled 23,811 TEU, for an increase of 78%.
In sum, the port sector has a crucial role in the social and economic development of PNG. It is important not only for the adequate and efficient handling of exports and imports, but also for the efficient movement of goods and persons between the remote and sparsely populated areas on the mainland and islands and the centers of economic activity.