Victoria’s $12 billion Port of Hastings expansion has moved forward, with the government calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI) with regard to four key feasibility phase work packages.

Last week, Minister for Ports David Hadgett released EOI documentation calling for interest from specialists associated with port planning and design, social and environment, hydrodynamics and legal services.

Additional work packages for economics advisory and risk management are expected to progress to the Request for Tender stage shortly.

Already catering for between 100 and 150 vessels of up to 100 tonnes in size each year, the port, which is located approximately 72 kilometres southeast of Melbourne, serves as one of Victoria’s four major trading ports and supports the oil and liquid petroleum gas import/export industries as well as serving as the southern terminal for a number of pipelines carrying oil and gas to coastal markets and through the Western Port Altona Geelong Pipeline to refineries in Melbourne and Geelong.

Over the next decade, the government wants to build a new multi-billion dollar container port capable of handling around between eight million and nine million containers annually, which it says would transform the area into Australia’s second largest container handling facility.

Hodgett says the expansion is necessary in order for the state to meet future capacity requirements and cement Victoria’s place as the ‘freight and logistics capital’ of Australia.

While current projections show the Port of Melbourne reaching its capacity by the middle of next decade, he says, overall freight movement is expected to quadruple by 2050.

Port of Hastings Development Authority chief executive officer Mike Lean said the feasibility phase will support policy decisions with regard to the port’s expansion.

“Together, these work packages will provide the Authority with the information required to guide the project through an environmental impact assessment and statutory approval process,” he said. “They will also form the backbone of a detailed business case, seeking to demonstrate the Port of Hastings as an attractive investment for both the public and private sectors.”

Following a three-year feasibility process, which is expected to run until 2017, construction is expected to begin in 2018 and take around seven years to complete.