PD Ports started work on a project to eventually triple container capacity at Teesport, the UK's third largest port.
The first phase, costing over $24 million, involves boosting the port's annual capacity to 450,000 20-foot equivalent units from 235,000 TEUs.
"This latest investment, which will potentially involve some $46.5 million of total investment, signifies a long term commitment to our unitized business, on the back of major growth opportunities," said PD Ports chief executive David Robinson.
Teesport news from JOC:
PD Ports to Boost Teesport Box Capacity
PD Ports said its overall strategy is to expand capacity, including roll-on, roll-off traffic, to at least 650,000 TEUs to "position Teesport as a major player in the container market."
But the company, owned by Canada's Brookfield Asset Management, stressed subsequent development is "subject to volume growth and market stability."
While Teesport, on the northeast coast of England, is one of the UK's largest ports handling over 40 million tons of cargo a year, it has a relatively small container operation compared with Felixstowe, Southampton and Liverpool.
Teesport handled a record 150,000 containers in 2010 up from 100,000 in 2009.
PD Ports originally planned to open a $450 million, 1.5 million TEU-a-year container port at Teesport in 2011 to capture cargo bound for the north of the UK that currently passes through crowded southern ports including Felixstowe.
But the project was put on hold while the company weighed market prospects following the container shipping slump.
Brookfield acquired PD Ports from Australia's Babcock & Brown Infrastructure for a token one Australian dollar (99 U.S. cents) in November 2009.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.