Resilient Ports — A Gateway to Economic Prosperity

From increases in products traded to decreased availability of workers and disorganised relief efforts, the impact of the pandemic had far-reaching consequences on global supply chains and emphasised the important role that ports play in keeping economies afloat.

Adam Bartle, Principal Coastal Engineer at BG&E Resources says, “Port resilience is crucial to the continuity of business, as well as to the communities and sectors that ports connect. In today’s complicated environment there is no magic formula to make ports more resilient overnight. Many efforts to strengthen port resilience focus solely on aging physical infrastructure, rather than planning for long-term port resilience.”

Adam has more than 18 years’ experience in successfully managing multidisciplinary maritime and coastal major projects. He has a solid track record in delivering detailed mooring analysis studies, berth downtime assessments, port master planning, design of coastal structures, on-site inspection of coastal structures and remediation work planning, dredging investigations/study phase planning, producing tender documents, procurement of dredging and survey contractors, and on-site contractor management during the dredging execution. His portfolio of experience spans the West and East coasts of Australia, including redevelopment of Fremantle Port North Quay Terminal hardstand areas, transforming Bunbury’s Waterfront Stage 3 Phase 1, detailed design of Dampier Fuel Wharf and Mardie Salt and Potash Jetty Definition Phase in Western Australia, various sustaining capital upgrades to BHP’s Port Hedland Berths, a greenfield magnetite export facility in Spencer Gulf South Australia, Webb Dock Detailed Design and subsequent upgrades for larger Cruise vessels for the Port of Melbourne, Northern Connector Project Seawall in South Australia, Amrun-Boyd Export Facility in Weipa, Queensland, and marine asset inspections for Sydney Airport in New South Wales, to name a few.

“This is a time for the myriad of stakeholders – government, industry and financiers – to take action across multiple dimensions including: the increasing demand for commodities as a result of the global energy transition and critical minerals boom and the strain that is placing on port assets and the surrounding precincts; disruption of cyber-attacks on infrastructure; and, responding to the impacts of our changing climate, in particular rising sea levels and ocean temperatures, the ever-changing marine ecosystem and increased frequency of extreme weather events, among others.”

The key to effective management of physical climate hazards is an adaptive strategy that takes into consideration the inherent uncertainty, as well as the potential for maladaptation. More comprehensive strategies to build resilience through climate adaptation are vital, in particular, as port owners and operators race towards net zero.  

The above-mentioned disruptive forces illustrate a complex time for port owners and operators, but it is also a time that is awash with opportunities to think differently about designing and delivering resilient ports, enhanced social value and increased shareholder value.

Adam adds, “When I think about port infrastructure, I think about the physical assets and the users of those assets, the energy that powers them, the seamless integration of the surrounding transport infrastructure and freight logistics network, the digital elements that could enhance operations and reduce OPEX, and the processes that link them together. These are all part of assessing resilience through action at an asset level.”

At BG&E Resources, we provide planning, procurement, design and clever engineering services combined with ESG advisory capabilities to help clients deliver sustainable port, marine and coastal developments. Our team has a robust track record in coastal processes and engineering – ranging from modelling and analysis of coastal processes, to the detailed design of coastal complex structures.

We design robust breakwaters and to optimise their configuration to minimise wave agitation in harbours. We also study local metocean conditions in detail in order to design breakwaters and optimise berth areas according to environmental conditions. Our concepts are adapted to include regionally available materials to minimise construction costs, and we have the capability to undertake on-site monitoring and inspections of aging structures.

Our talented ports and marine team create resilient connections between land and sea, by undertaking port planning, marine site investigations and port design studies, as well as mitigating erosion and submersion for the long-term, shore protection work, detached breakwaters, groins, cliff stabilisation, bulkheads, adaptation and support and ecosystem integration.

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