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August 28
Changes to Tariffs for Prescribed Services for the Port of Darwin

The private port operator, Darwin Port Operations Pty Ltd (DPO) sets tariffs for the standard charges for prescribed services that it provides to port users. Prescribed services include: providing access for vessels to the port, supplying berths, providing amenities for loading and unloading of vessels, pilotage services, and allowing entry of persons and vehicles to any land which port facilities are located. It does not include storage, stevedoring and the Marine Supply Base.  

Under the regime, DPO must provide 20 days’ notice to the Commission about any proposed changes to tariffs. DPO is also required to publish an amended price list on its website 10 days before the amended tariffs take effect.   

On 11 July 2017, DPO notified the Commission that it intended to increase a number of its tariffs for prescribed services, as well as introducing a new tariff for large vessels using the Bladin Channel. The amended tariffs commenced on 1 August 2017 and are available on DPO’s website under Port Tariffs. DPO has met its obligations pursuant to the Ports Management Regulations and Price Determination, as it has provided 20 days’ notice to the Commission and approximately one month’s notice to stakeholders.

When performing its price monitoring function, the Commission may use benchmarking or annual price increases linked to an indexation factor. While a number of different indexes were considered by the Commission, the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) is generally preferred by regulators. It is appropriate to use either Darwin, or the eight capital cities CPI. Generally regional and national CPIs are relatively close, but for the period from March 2016 to March 2017, Darwin’s CPI rose by 0.5% compared to a national increase of 2.1%.  

In general, on 1 August 2017, the majority of the charges for prescribed services for standard services for the Port of Darwin rose by 1.1%. This is between Darwin’s and the national CPI increases discussed above. This is the first time DPO has increased its tariffs since becoming the private port operator in late 2015.

The Bulk Liquid Fuels Inbound Wharfage tariff rose by 3.6%. DPO has informed the Commission that the reason for this higher increase was so that DPO receive an acceptable rate of return for the Bulk Liquids Fuel Berth infrastructure upgrades that it has undertaken.

DPO has introduced a new tariff, the Bladin Channel Port Dues Levy. This tariff is for vessels larger than 20,000 gross tonne accessing the Bladin Channel. DPO has advised the Commission that the purpose of the new tariff is to provide a recovery mechanism for investment in pilotage, harbour control and management facilities to support the safe management of large vessel traffic. Large vessel traffic is expected to increase once INPEX starts operation in late 2017.

The Commission will be undertaking a review of the access and pricing regime for the Port of Darwin which will commence later this year. If you would like to be involved in this review, please let the Commission know so that you can be added to the Ports Review Communications List. The Commission can be contacted on (08) 8999 5480 or utilities.commission@nt.gov.au.