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Lyttelton port hopes to resume freight at weekend

Wednesday 15th June 2011

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Lyttelton Port is facing more repairs after suffering further damage in Monday's 5.6 and 6.3 aftershocks.

The port company said stevedoring of containers has been delayed until noon on Friday.

Further damage at the port's oil berth included more settlement of land, but it was expected to be operational for the first vessel due next Monday.

"The latest earthquakes have impacted on the programme of repair work that was already underway," said Lyttelton Port chief executive Peter Davie.

Yesterday's aftershocks caused damage additional to the effects from the September and February tremors.

Consultants today carried out an engineering assessment.

The latest quakes caused the collapse of damaged buildings in Christchurch, and may have caused the death of one man and injured a number of others, cut power and water, and resulted in widespread liquefaction.

"Our goal is to return services safely and as soon as possible," Davie said.

The container wharves at the South Island's busiest port had been further damaged, and there were also new cracks in areas paved since the February earthquake.

The port was still receiving and delivering containers, but did not expect stevedoring of container vessels would return to normal until after midday Friday, and berthing "windows" for ships had been suspended until further notice.

"We anticipate normal rail operation to and from Lyttelton container terminal to resume Wednesday," Davie said.

Repairs to the inner harbour wharves were needed and this would be done according to shipping priorities, with general cargo operations expected to resume on Thursday morning - though there would be constraints on working car-carriers.

The company's share price on the NZX fell 2c today, to $2.26.

The port - 78.8% owned by Christchurch City Holdings, the commercial holding company for Christchurch City Council assets and 15 percent by Port of Otago - took a $22.6 million hit from the initial 7.1 magnitude September earthquake last year, when it had to write down the value of its assets.

The September quake resulted in a first-half loss for the port company, but it had been predicting a trading profit for the year to June 30 of $12 million, up from its earlier projection of $10 million, as volumes of container traffic lifted.

That forecast did not take into account one-time charges and insurance payouts.

The company said new damage caused by the February quake was covered by insurance.



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