Only months into their new venture, ANL has proven the benefits of a containerised shipping service to and from Singapore and intends to expand.

The operator started in November last year after extensive assessment showed a market existed for a container service.

Previously, all international containerised cargo supplied to the Pilbara were shipped to Fremantle, unpacked and trucked north.

ANL — headquartered in Melbourne and subsidiary of French shipping giant CMA CGM — tested the market with a range of stakeholders.

ANL Business Development Manager Darryl Evans said there was no hard data on what the market wanted because there was no existing containerised shipping operation servicing Port Hedland.

“We were confident there was a market,” said Mr Evans, who outlined the business operations in a presentation to February’s Community Industry Forum.

“We spoke to a lot of stakeholders, but it got to the point where we weren’t going to find out any more about the market without a product.”

“We announced our plans with six weeks’ notice, and we got bookings.”

Darryl said he was pleased with the encouragement and positive attitude of groups including Pilbara Ports Authority, the Pilbara Development Commission, the Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Port Hedland Industries Council and stevedores QUBE.

“They all live in the town and they see what it could mean,” he said. “We were really encouraged by the level of enthusiasm and support. We have had no blocks just a willingness to assist. It’s been fantastic.”

He said Port Hedland was “the only choice, but the right choice” for ANL to establish its Pilbara operations.

“Only Port Hedland is approved to take import containers. The PPA took the lead on that and achieved it in 2019. The region wanted direct containerised shipping,” he said.

The current service runs Singapore, Darwin, Port Hedland, Dili and Singapore.

There is potential to expand to other Pilbara ports, with the aim to provide direct services to Singapore as the business grows.

The primary market is to service the iron ore and LNG sectors, but Mr Evans said the next phase would be to service the businesses that supply goods to the local community, including but not limited to building products, furniture, and retail supplies.

He said the PPA was working to achieve container accreditation for the Port of Dampier.

“Once approved, if customers want us to go there, we will,” Darryl said.