Port set for dredging as it receives 275-metre tanker

Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director William Ruto.  

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Mombasa port is set for a fresh round of dredging to handle bigger vessels even as it received its largest-ever oil tanker, pilling pressure for expansion and deepening of the entrance channel.

The MT Marlin Sardina, currently sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands, is 275 meters long and has a draft of 14.5 meters— the depth of the vessel below the waterline, measured vertically to its hull’s lowest—its propellers.

The ship with a width of 48 metres docked at the new Kipevu Oil Terminal 2 (KOT2) with 12,1403.53 metric tonnes of diesel on Tuesday.

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) said it would commence dredging berths at the Mombasa port to a depth of 16 metres below chart datum—a level so low that the tide will not frequently fall below it—to handle bigger vessels following the call by MT Marlin Sardina.

“Vessel MT Marlin Sardina is the largest oil tanker to dock at the Port of Mombasa and this is a boost to the Sh 40 billion KOT2 investment. We have had several companies willing to invest to make Mombasa port a distribution hub for oil products in Africa,” said KPA managing director William Ruto.

The Port of Mombasa consists of Kilindini Habour, Port Reitz, the old port (Mombasa Harbour), and Port Tudor.

Vessels approaching the Mombasa port must, however, navigate through an S-shaped bend between Ras Sertani and Ras Mzimba, which poses a constraint on the maximum ship length that can safely navigate through the channel.

Mr Ruto said the State agency plans to further expand the Kipevu terminus to enhance efficiency in handling a greater volume of petroleum products in the region.

In April this year, Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) and KPA) signed an agreement on the operations and maintenance of the terminal where the two agencies will run the facility jointly to align with a presidential directive for synergizing the two-state corporations.

The KPA boss said the terminal can discharge 8,000 litres per hour and more companies are invited to apply to connect to it.

The KOT 2 facility has four berths with a total length of 770m and one workboat wharf at Westmont area for landing facilities.

It also has five sub-sea pipelines buried 26 metres under the seabed to allow for future dredging of the channel without interfering with the pipes.

There are risers dedicated to separate oil products and six onshore pipelines each dedicated to a separate oil product connecting the terminal to Kenya Petroleum Refineries Limited and the Kenya Pipeline Company storage tanks.

It is also fitted with a liquid petroleum gas facility, crude oil, and heavy fuel oil and has provisions for handling white petroleum products.

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