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Port of the Month: HAROPA-Port of Le Havre

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Port of le Havre

Port of le Havre

Wednesday, 03 December 2014 – This month takes a look at the HAROPA complex in France, and its ambitions to become a leading logistics centre with a firm ambition for facilitating and increasing environmentally-sustainable global trade.

ESPO: Can you briefly tell us about HAROPA? What are its main characteristics and challenges?

HaropPorts: HAROPA, North-Western Europe’s major seaport complex, is a unique model of port co-operation

HAROPA, the 5th largest port complex in Northern Europe and the leading French port with a 35 % market share, is connected to every continent owing to a first-rate international shipping offer (thereby linking with 600 ports worldwide). It serves a vast hinterland whose core is in the Seine valley and the Paris region forming the biggest French consumer market area. With around 10 Normandy and Paris area partner ports, the ‘one-stop’ hub now forms, in France, a global transport and logistics system capable of providing a comprehensive end-to-end service. HAROPA handles over 120 million tons of cargo by sea and waterway each year, while HAROPA business represents 160, 000 jobs.

HAROPA serves the number 1 French consumer market, the Paris region, is connected by all transport modes and provides fluid connections to France, the second biggest European consumer market, and to Europe’s main economic centres.

HAROPA is the fifth-largest northern European port, and is the number 1 port facilitating France’s external trade. It is also the number 1 logistics hub in the country, as well as being the biggest sustainable industrial cluster, biggest inland port and the number 1 inland port for global tourism. HAOPA has also been awarded the best seaport in Europe (2014) and in 2013 was awarded the best dry bulk port in Europe for the second year running.

Another view from the Port of Le Havre

Another view from the Port of Le Havre

The strength of HAROPA lies in its capacity to deal with all types of traffic. HAROPA, therefore, has ambitions to attract more and more traffic, constituting a constantly developing major logistics system, and to form a long-standing industrial cluster, provide an attractive tourist location, and to integrate ports with their environments.

ESPO: Together with Rouen and Paris, le Havre is part of the HAROPA network. Can you tell us about the aims of this co-operation? What are the main added values? What impact does it have for hinterlands along the Seine artery?

 HaropaPorts: The three ports of the Seine axis (Grand Port Maritime du Havre, Grand Port Maritime de Rouen and Ports de Paris) decided in 2012 to extend the scope of their cooperation by creating the EIG HAROPA. They are thus fully complementary and stronger together to face competition from the northern ports.

HAROPA-Port of Le Havre is France’s leading container port and the maritime gateway to European and world trade.Being a deepwater seaport, and owing to an outstanding location on the West-European sea board, HAROPA-Port of Le Havre accommodates each year around 6, 000 vessels among which the world largest containerships. Its main container terminal, Port 2000, has 3.5 km of quay now in operation and will offer 4.2 km of quayside for ship reception, after completion of its final phase. Accessible 24/7 without any limitation of tide, Le Havre handles about 70 million tonnes of cargo per year with the shortest transit times. It is, for example, the third European port for traffic between Asia and Europe, with more than two calls per day on that destination.

HAROPA-Port of Rouen is Europe’s leading port for cereal exports. Owing to its historical trade links with Africa and the French overseas departments and territories, it is well positioned for north/south flows (container traffic in particular). As an estuary port close to the Paris region, it can be competitive in the bulk transport of many different goods: aggregates, recycled products, refined products, etc.

HAROPA-Ports de Paris ranks second among European inland ports and is the leading French inland port, in particular for containers. Navigation on the Seine is possible throughout the year. The river can be used to transport goods into the heart of the capital via sustainable logistics solutions right up to the last mile, and it also offers unparalleled potential for the expansion of tourism.

HAROPA’s goal is to contribute to making the Seine artery a major European logistics system that is competitive and sustainable, at the service of companies and regions.

Together, the three ports in the Seine artery have the capacity to handle very diverse traffic and to offer their customers, for any product type, a comprehensive, competitive service in terms of destinations offered, the transit of goods in the port (handling and storage), distribution (multimodal solutions), possibilities for location and various services (covering all the port activities). HAROPA thus provides efficient logistics chains for most sectors, competitive with those developed from the ports of Northern Europe.

As a result of its extended network, HAROPA gives access to an extensive French and European hinterland, and also offers alternative logistics solutions using mass, sustainable means of transport to regional players who, in certain sectors, until now, have essentially used the road. Circulation of goods between countries and continents is thus facilitated. Via its land links, HAROPA is able to serve all Western Europe. This vast hinterland is linked to more than 600 ports across all the continents, thanks to the services offered by around fifty shipping lines.

HAROPA also plays a key role in the setting-up of regional logistics chains, encouraging players to opt for a modal shift.


ESPO: HAROPA is composed of TEN-T ports and is an essential node in the multimodal corridors. It is now time for implementation? What is your first experience with the corridor fora? What are your plans? What do you expect from this policy?

HaropaPorts: As a core ports included in the Atlantic and the North-Sea Mediterranean corridors (for Ports of Paris), HAROPA has actively participated in the two last fora of these corridors. On one hand, the new European transport policy based on multimodal corridors is a very interesting approach, dealing with the global performances of the corridor for each mode of transport, and not only focusing on missing links as it was the case before. Today, every infrastructure manager involved in a corridor knows what the contribution of his infrastructure towards  reaching the performance goals of the corridor is. On the other hand, the corridor fora and working groups create opportunities for infrastructure managers to meet each other, and facilitate co-ordination between them.

We are satisfied, so far, to see that the critical issues concerning HAROPA in the corridor are being taken into account in the reports and working plans. The corresponding proposals for EU funding will thus be presented more easily. We expect from this policy that all critical issues will be officially recognised and shared with all partners, and that EU funding will be addressed to priority projects in a scheduled and relevant way.

Port of Le Havre Quay

Port of Le Havre Quay

ESPO: The TEN-T policy also expects ports to play a part in greening the local environment. What initiatives has HAROPA taken in this regard? What are the big environmental problems foreseen for the future?

 HaropaPorts: For many years, HAROPA ports not only work to reduce the environmental impact of their activities but also to improve the overall performance of the ports and other players in the industrial area. For example, since 2009, with the creation of an Environmental Ship Index, the Port of Le Havre (member of the Eco-Port network) contributes to the improvement of air quality by implementing a policy of financial incentives aimed to encourage shipping companies to participate in ‘green calls’ that reduce air emissions of their ships. In 2013, this initiative was extended to other ports within HAROPA (Rouen for specialised ships and Paris for some river-sea vessels), covering the whole of the Seine axis . So far, hundreds of ship calls have benefited from this environmental incentive policy.

HAROPA ports are also working on a circular economy approach on their industrial ports areas to identify the potential deposit flows of materials and energy in their territory, build a collective culture through experience-sharing between public, industrial and economic stakeholders and identify and initiate pilot actions.

The initiative would, for instance, aim at better connecting via the Seine axis the deposits made ​​by the industrial areas of ports of Le Havre, Rouen and Paris.

Since 2014 the Port of Le Havre in association with the City, the Chamber of Commerce and industry partners, is part of a larger project to build a smart eco-park to develop trade in energy flow and material that  results from the circular economy between industry players together or with the city, increase energy efficiency and deploy smarts grids on industrial land port and reduce the environmental impacts of the various activities.

From 2012 to 2014 the ports of Le Havre and Rouen have completed a biodiversity diagnosis on the territory of the Seine estuary, which is a wide range of environments and wet habitats of great ecological wealth.

The result of this work was the creation of a Master Plan on Port and Nature, which will be updated on an annual basis. This scheme aims to define the strategy of the two Ports Natural Heritage by taking into account biodiversity in all development projects, putting in place a comprehensive action plan and co-ordinated management of natural heritage, improving the urban integration of ports into cities, and developing transitional spaces between the port and the city.

Regarding the Ports of Paris, big efforts have been made to sustain with a very limited impact the existence of 60 urban ports in the city of Paris. Furthermore, the multimodal platform of Gennevilliers is certifies ISO 14001 and the certification will be extended to other platforms and to the ports of Rouen and Le Havre.

ESPO: HAROPA is an important oil port. Energy is high on the EU political agenda.  Is HAROPA developing a strategy to respond to the new challenges in the field of energy, such as an alternative energy mix, energy efficiency and energy independence?

HaropaPorts: HAROPA Ports are further developing strategic actions to respond to the challenges in the field of energy. As oil products consumption is on the decrease on a national scale, and there is a progressive alteration of the national energy mix, this brings about a reduction of the oil needs of the French economy. HAROPA ports should therefore rapidly adapt to a decreasing environment for oil trade. It has to turn to alternative energy products such as LNG. In addition, owing to the EU directive in 2012, the port complex should place itself as regards the provision of refuelling facilities in low-sulphur fuels for ships. A project financed with TEN-T funding (“SAFE-SECA” study for Alternative Fuels and experiment in the Seine Channel Area) with HAROPA partner ports has been initiated to structure a ship bunkering supply in the Seine valley and bay .

The trade of bio-fuels is also developed within HAROPA with the creation of facilities of processing of bio-fuels and bio-diesel, for instance from animal fats not suited for human feeding. The challenge for the ports is to support the stakeholders of the chemical trade in diversifying their business to develop the flows of bio-fuels, the storage of chemicals and the creation of innovative companies.

Another important strategic way is the development of offshore wind energy in France with the installation of wind farm industries in the port zone to set up wind energy offshore fields along the French coasts.

HAROPA has to play a major part as a port zone developer to help industries and industrial activities to set up in the port zone, and develop energy and industrial synergies to increase competitiveness.

ESPO: Finally, what are the main challenges facing the new Transport Commissioner, Violeta Bulc? What are the main issues for ports that she should be focussing on over the next five years?

 HaropaPorts: Main issues for ports include the development of strategies in order to attract companies and economic business while respecting the environment by developing the sites according to their regional and local master plans. Located within the ports, the sites have to profit from all multimodal transport offerings, which is a guarantee of business performance while respecting the objectives of air emission control in the long term. The issue is to become a reference of integration between ports and their environment, urban and natural, through the management of port areas, as well as developing clean and sustainable logistics via green consolidated modes of transport.

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