The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria is a North African country that enjoys a special geographic position in the Mediterranean Sea. The tenth-largest country in the world, Algeria has a coastline of 1,280 km with 35 fishing ports, 8 general cargo ports, 3 mixed ports, and 2 energy ports.
The Ports in Algeria act as a bridge between Europe and Africa. The vast majority of commercial trade in Algeria moves through its robust national port network. Algeria has a rich petroleum belt and is ranked number 16, globally, in oil reserves. This makes Algeria the sixth-largest exporter of gas around the world and the biggest producer and exporter of petroleum to Europe.
Aside from petroleum and natural gas production, Algeria’s economy is in a constant state of turmoil due to high costs of living and inept state bureaucracy. However, the government has made concerted efforts to invest in port cargo handling machinery in order to ensure that this industry thrives.
Since 2019, China has taken a special interest in Algerian ports and has invested significantly in the construction of new ports like Port Centre d’El Hamadania, which is expected to handle 25.7 million tonnes of goods annually, and the construction of Port Skikda, an energy port.
According to a national report published in 2018, the largest port in terms of global traffic of maritime trade in Algeria, Port of Arzew handled 44.8 million tonnes of goods, the majority of which were oil and gas exports. Meanwhile, other major ports like Port Skikda and Bejaia handled approximately 36 million tonnes of oil products.
6 Top Ports in Algeria
1) Port of Algiers
Built-in the district of Algiers in 1998, the Port of Algiers is situated in the northwest part of the Bay of Algiers and is managed by Enterprise Portuaire d’Alger. This port was the Algerian port built for commercial purposes and the Centre, West Centre, and East Centre of Algeria are the hinterland of the port.
The port has a storage capacity for 120,000 tonnes of goods (spanning over a total area of 282,000 m2) and its average monthly landing capacity is 800,000 tonnes. When it comes to container facilities, the Port of Algiers has one center for stuffing and stripping, a maintenance workshop, one checkpoint, one administrative building, and park gear.
The Port of Algiers is divided into three zones- 1. The North Zone is delimited by the fishery and the Harbor Master’s Office, 2. The Centre Zone is assigned to the container terminal and bounded by refit forms, and 3. The South Zone is the east breakwater and is delimited by the container terminal.
2) Port of Oran
The Algerian city of Oran is considered the second most important city in Algeria after the capital, Algiers. With a population of over 1.5 million people, Oran serves as the headquarters for Sonatrach, Algeria’s largest oil and gas company. It also has a booming petrochemical, textile, and agro-food industry.
The Port of Oran was built in the 1960s and acts as a bridge between the countries of Morocco and Spain, along with other Mediterranean countries. The Port is managed by the Enterprise Portuaire d’Oran under the supervision of the Port Services Group and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
The port authority of Oran provides the following handling equipment to exporters and importers- dockside cranes, container gantries, a grain elevator with Bagging Machines, reach stackers, mobile cranes, forklifts, and transtainers. Annually, the Port of Oran handles somewhere between 270,000 to 280,000 TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent unit) cargo.
3) Port of Annaba
Situated next to the Tunisian border in the East Algeria province of Annaba, the Port of Annaba is the third-largest port in Algeria. While there isn’t any information available on who manages the port, the Port of Annaba covers an area of 130 hectares, with 22 commercial berths, a storage capacity of approximately 25,000 m2, and two breakwaters. The port offers limited repairs equipment and is open only during the week. According to official reports, the port of Annaba is accessed by over 30,000 passengers annually, along with 1600 vessels.
4) Port of Bejaia
Built-in the province of Bejaia, the Port of Bejaia is managed by the Enterprise Portuaire de Bejaia. For centuries, the port of Bejaia has welcomed ships from all corners of the world. According to the port’s main website, the Port of Bejaia has been an engine of economic development not only in the province of Bejaia but also in the country of Algiers.
The Port of Bejaia can be accessed by general cargo ships through the old port and the inner harbor. The port is made of three basins- Avant Port Basin (intended to handle oil ships), Bassin du Vieux Port, and Back Port Basin. It has a storage area of 422,000 m2 , along with 16 berths for general cargo ships, 1 gas berth, and 3 berths for oil tankers.
The Port is connected to the Hassi Messaoud oil fields through pipelines and is a trading center for the city of Bejaia’s many industries. The Port of Bejaia not only facilitates the export of oil and gas, and merchant goods but also functions as a fishing port. The Port Authority guarantees the safety of port infrastructure by providing services like piloting, docking, towing, handling and loading, and port domain management.
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5) Port of Arzew
The Port of Arzew is located in the province of Arzew and near the town of Oran. The Port of Arzew is managed by the Enterprise Portuaire d’Arzew and its creation dates back to the Roman Empire. The port has since been expanded and modernized multiple times, especially to facilitate the transportation of hydrocarbons.
The main missions of the Port of Arzew are to exercise stevedoring, port handling, pilotage, towing, and mooring operations, along with the operation of port equipment and facilities, and the execution of maintenance, development, and renewal work on the superstructure.
The Port of Arzew has an oil recovery barge, a multifunction naval vehicle, a 750 m long inflatable floating boom, 5 pilot boats, 12 mooring boats, and a hydraulic power pack disc skimmer. The port operates in two shifts and can accommodate a vessel of the size of 500 feet.
6) Port of Skikda
Port of Skikda is the combination of two ports, Skikda and Port Methanier. Collectively, these ports are situated approximately 400 km away from the city of Algiers. The Port of Skikda has a 1.6 m long breakwater and is built to handle bulk containers, grains, and general cargo and oil products
State-Owned Transport and Logistics Companies
In an effort to make the trading of goods smoother and more efficient in Algeria, the government decided to establish 4 national state-owned companies.
- Groupe SERPORT- Groupe SERPORT operates 10 ports- Algiers, Annaba, Arzew, Bajaia, Djen-Djen, Ghazaouet, Oran, Mostaganem, Skikda, and Tenes. It is also responsible for post logistics.
- Logitrans Group- Logitrans Group is responsible for port logistics and the transports of goods. Since 2018, in order to promote Algeria’s non-hydrocarbon exports, the Logitrans Group facilitated the export of commodities produced by over 100 businesses to neighboring African countries.
- Transtev- The Transtev Group or The Land Passenger Transport group is a group that aims to improve Algeria’s public transportation system.
- GATMA- GATMA or the Algerian Maritime Group and its subsidiaries are responsible for the transportation of passengers and cargo. It is also responsible for repairing old ships and building new ones.
Construction of Port El Hamdania
In 2016, former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika signed a memorandum of understanding with the China State Construction Engineering Company, the China Harbor Engineering Company, and the Algerian Port Authority to construct the Port of El Hamdania, near Cherchell.
Upon completion, the Port of El Hamdania was expected to provide better connectivity to Algeria with other African nations, Southeast Asia, America, and Europe. It was also expected that the port would be the first deep-water port in Algeria and would handle 6.5 million containers annually.
However, in 2019, Algerian media announced that the construction of the Port of El Hamdania was suspended but didn’t give an official explanation. Several media outlets noted that the suspension of construction was due to the nationwide Hirak protest movement. Since 2020 there have been efforts made to begin work again but they have been unsuccessful.
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Algeria is the largest nation in Africa and the tenth-largest country in the world. Situated in the North of Africa, Algeria shares a border with Libya, Niger, Tunisia, Morocco, and Mali, and the Mediterranean Sea in the north. This fortunate positioning, a vast coastline, and rich oil deposits has resulted in Algeria becoming an economic hub.
Ever since the discovery of oil and natural gas in the region, the government of Algeria has made concerted efforts to build ports along the coastline to facilitate the sale of petroleum in Europe and globally. The government continues to improve the infrastructure and expand the operations for even more efficient trade and transportation.