(EnergyAsia, April 29 2016, Friday) — Singapore has begun construction of a giant terminal at the western end of the island to replace existing container port facilities and consolidate operations for the long term.

The first phase of the Tuas Terminal project will have 20 deepwater berths with an initial capacity to handle an annual traffic of 20 million twenty-foot-container equivalent units (TEUs), rising to 65 million TEUs when completed by 2046.

Construction officially began earlier today when Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan launched the first of what will be 222 caissons that will form the port’s wharf structure. According to the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), the caisson, a 28-metre tall pre-fabricated concrete structure, was sunk off Tuas to form the foundation bed for the permanent wharf structure.

Wikipedia defines a caisson as “a watertight retaining structure used to work on the foundations of a bridge pier…for the repair of ships.”

Reclamation work on the project’s first phase is expected to be completed early next decade while Singapore aims to progressively close down and relocate older terminals located near the city centre.

“The Tuas Terminal is a centrepiece of Singapore’s Next Generation Port vision and demonstrates our strong commitment to strengthening and sustaining our leadership position as a global hub port and International Maritime Centre,” said MPA’s chief executive, Andrew Tan.

In February 2015, the MPA awarded an S$2.4 billion contract to a joint venture between Singapore-based Dredging International Asia Pacific (DIAP) and South Korea’s Daelim Industrial to undertake land reclamation and related works for the port’s phase one development. (US$1=S$1.35). The joint venture firm has signed onto to reclaim 294 hectares, dredge the Tuas basin and Temasek Fairway, and construct the wharf structure.

DIAP is the Asian arm of Belgium’s DEME Group, a world-leading dredging, environmental and marine engineering company.

In a separate announcement, AMOS Marine, a maritime services and support solutions provider, said it has opened a 280,000 sq ft centre in Tuas.

“The new facility represents a substantial investment in the shipping and offshore services segment in Singapore,” the company said. AMOS Marine is majority owned by Asian private equity firm ShawKwei & Partners.

Danny Lien, AMOS’s CEO, said the new centre will enable the company to more efficiently serve customers including provide engineering services such as repair and maintenance.