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Port of the month – Port of Gothenburg: The gateway to Scandinavia and the Baltics

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Port of Gothengburg

Port of Gothengburg

Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:58 – On 15 and 16 May, ESPO is organising the 11th edition of its Annual Conference, which will be hosted by the port of Gothenburg. People who have attended the conferences during the previous years, know this is an event not to be missed. In order to convince others to join us to Sweden in May, we would like to present you the port of Gothenburg.

Can you draw us a picture of the port of Gothenburg in a few lines?

The port of Gothenburg is the largest port in Scandinavia and the optimal freight hub in northern Europe.  The port provides a direct access to the entire Baltic region and all parts of Scandinavia. The port of Gothenburg is a no-limits port, operating 24/7, all year round.

So, one of the main assets of Gothenburg’s port is its location?

Today, almost 30 per cent of Swedish foreign trade passes through the port of Gothenburg. This is not surprising. Our unique geographical location, combined with easy access via both rail and sea, plays a crucial role. Furthermore, we are the only port in Scandinavia with the capacity to handle the world´s largest container vessels. In the next ten years, we will be further reinforcing our role as Scandinavia´s primary freight hub by doubling the port´s capacity. Currently, we are making huge investments in our infrastructure, with special attention to new train solutions, new quays and cranes.  Our goal is to expand through sustainable growth, while keeping in mind the well-being of the citizens and the environment.

Europe’s new  TEN-T policy is obliging core sea ports to “green” their hinterland links? How sustainably linked is Gothenburg?  What is the modal shift?

The port of Gothenburg is sustainably linked through our extensive rail shuttle system called Railport Scandinavia. This rail port concept was developed to generate cost-efficient and sustainable transport solutions with the port of Gothenburg as the hub. A comprehensive railway network connects the port with a large number of cargo terminals in Sweden and Norway. Transporting goods by rail is both an efficient and environmentally friendly option and the port has worked decisively to reinforce rail transport for the past ten years. The development of the system is taking place in close cooperation with railway and terminal operators and the relevant municipalities. Today, the Railport Scandinavia system comprises 26 shuttles operating every weekday between Gothenburg and 24 different locations. Half of all containers to and from the port go by rail. A total of 411, 000 containers were transported in 2012, which generated a saving of over 61, 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide compared to road transport.

What other efforts are made in Gothenburg to be a “green” port?

The port of Gothenburg has an active and lasting commitment to minimise the environmental impact of shipping and to contribute to sustainable transport. Climate and pollution issues are high on our agenda and a number of other measures have been implemented and have contributed to a better environment. In 2000, the port of Gothenburg became the first port in the world to offer onshore high voltage power. Ships cut their engines when berthing and operate all on-board functions using onshore power. This implies a significant reduction in emissions and noise. In 2012, 34 percent of all vessels visiting the port were able to connect to renewable onshore power. In 2011 the port launched a campaign whereby vessels choosing cleaner fuel when operating in the Gothenburg port area were financially compensated. LNG ventures and vessels classed as green under the Clean Shipping Index could also get support. This was funded by the environmentally-driven port tariffs, which have been implemented since 1998, with higher fees for vessels discharging more air pollution and lower fees for those with good environmental performance. The tariffs are being reviewed by 2015.

Investments in sustainable fuels are vital to our ambition to grow with minimal environmental impact and further develop as a green port. Currently, a new terminal is being built, which will offer liquefied natural gas (LNG) within a few years. The terminal will be operated by Swedegas, owner of the Swedish national gas grid, and the Dutch storage company Vopak LNG. The port has signed a collaboration agreement with the port of Rotterdam, where the aim is to accelerate the development of LNG as ship fuel. Our key criteria for success are continued investment in both innovation and collaboration. An approach that, so far, has proven to be successful.

What are the big challenges ahead for the Port of Gothenburg?

The port of Gothenburg has a diverse and focused mission – to create growth for the Swedish industry and to improve local employment in Gothenburg. However, society remains unpredictable, the world is getting increasingly globalised, and competition more intense. Therefore, we need to have an active, comprehensive coverage in order to develop properly and meet our growth targets, without increasing the environmental load.

One of our major, future challenges is to achieve our growth ambitions with a minimal impact on the environment, both at local and global level. Additional challenges, which undoubtedly also mean opportunities for our environment, are the stricter environmental Regulations on international shipping.

Finally, our trading partners are now further away from us and as the leading port in Scandinavia; we see this as one of our most important challenges. The Swedish industry must be able to reach its markets quickly and cost-effectively, without trans-shipment in ports on the continent. Therefore, we are actively trying to get more direct routes to other parts of the world.

What can we expect from the ESPO Conference? Can you already reveal something?

We are very much looking forward to host this year’s ESPO Conference in our beautiful city Gothenburg located just by the sea. The hotel where the Conference will take place, the Clarion Hotel Post is truly unique. The historic post office at Drottningtorget, located a few steps from the central station, has been transformed into a full-service, international hotel with its original, architectural details that have been preserved in order to create its modern, eclectic style.

The Conference Dinner will be held at a very nice restaurant just close to the sea. From the restaurant you will have a beautiful view looking out over the archipelago. From your table you can follow the sailboat races outside, the entrance to Gothenburg harbour or just enjoy the sunset.

Furtheremore, we will arrange a nice partners programme to Marstrand, which is the smallest town in the county of Västra Götaland, but remains the principal summer resort. A lovely place for pleasure especially for its cultural history, its buildings, its tall stories and legends – but also for its royal splendour. Marstrand is of course most renowned as a playground for sunlovers, for bathing and sailing.

(source: ESPO News Monthly Overview – January 2014)

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