The Multi-User Offshore Hub (MUOH) is an innovative idea for constructing and operating new major port facilities for the export of dry bulk (ore, coal), liquid bulk (oil and gas), or handling containers. The size and shape of the MUOH depends on the commodity. The most compact versions are used for dry and liquid bulk; a slightly different concept is employed for containers. Capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expense (OPEX) are key drivers as well as minimizing the ecological footprint. These are key factors that can make or break the feasibility of a project.
The idea for the MUOH concept began when we were working on infrastructure projects for the mining industry in various regions in Africa. One striking element was that, at the time, each mining company wanted its own port and rail infrastructure and there was little or no desire at all to share. As a consequence, the costs and environmental impact were relatively high. When commodity prices fell, most of the projects stalled, also because of the high infrastructure costs. This gave us a reason to rethink our approach and to see if we could come up with smart solutions. Key to the MUOH concept are
- optimizing the use of existing infrastructure
- combining as many components as possible, and
- instead of building one or more ports along a shallow coastline, building a modular facility at sufficient water depth that is able to accommodate the biggest vessels.
This eliminates the need for dredging and construction of breakwaters, which are both major cost components. The need for breakwaters is compensated for by using dynamic-controlled mooring and fender systems. The offshore structure has a modular setup and can be tailored to the needs of the client(s). Connection between the land and the MUOH is made by dedicated barge operations. Studies have shown a significant reduction in CAPEX and OPEX when MUOHs are considered. Key success factors are smart logistics and innovative mooring and fender systems.
The MUOH concept is perfectly suitable for the construction and operation of new ports in various parts of the world, including West Africa (Guinea–Liberia), Ghana, Gabon, East Africa (Mozambique), the United States (Mississippi Delta) and Asia (Vietnam). Shipping lines, oil companies, operators, dredging and marine contractors, and many others could benefit.
Because of the integration of smart logistics, and dynamic systems, and Bechtel’s knowledge of the marine and shipping industry Bechtel is uniquely positioned to develop this concept.
Learn more about Bechtel's experience and involvement with ports