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Is Gdansk going to go up in the ranking of the largest Baltic ports? - Summary of the first half of 2016
The past six months of this year were undoubtedly successful for the Port of Gdansk, as the volume of transshipments handled during that time reached nearly 18 million tonnes. This is a result worthy of a record, as in comparison, in the analogous period of the previous year, which went down in the history of the Polish maritime economy, the port handled over 700,000 tonnes of cargo less than this year.
The coal and general cargo turnover is worthy of special attention. During the first six months of this year, a total of more than 2.5 million tonnes of coal was handled on the quays of the Port of Gdansk, which is an increase of as much as 32% compared to the previous year, and at the same time, the second best result in this respect during the last decade, after 2013.
An almost identical growth dynamics was recorded in the transshipments of general cargo, which increased in Gdansk by 31% compared to the first half of the previous year. Altogether, the transshipments in this group of goods totalled 7.2 million tonnes, which is the best result in the port's history. Both high transshipments of containerised goods and other commodities, including conventional general cargo and Ro-Ro cargo, contributed to the record result. The former increased by 32% when expressed in tonnes and by 27% considering the volume of containers expressed in TEU. Meanwhile, the remaining cargo comprising the general cargo group increased by 17% in the past six months, including Ro-Ro cargo - by 12.5%.
Very good results were recorded in Gdansk also when it comes to the turnover of so-called other bulk cargo, which totalled nearly 2 million tonnes at the port. A similar level of transshipments in this group during the last decade was observed only twice, in 2011 and 2012. At that time, it totalled 2.1 and 2.2 million tonnes, respectively. Such good results are mainly due to increased transshipments of aggregate, as well as a nearly twofold increase in the volumes of feldspar and soda.
However, some decreases were also recorded in the last six months. They affected mainly the transshipments of cereals (down by 29%), due to a smaller import volume of these goods, and liquid fuels (down by 22.5%) - although a considerable level of 5.6 million tonnes of the latter was handled. It is worth noting that last year's result recorded in this group of goods was the highest in the port's history.
In spite of the above, the Port of Gdansk ended the first six months of this year with a result better by 4.3% than in the previous year, which does not entirely reflect the winning streak of this half year, as since January, the dynamics of growth in cargo turnover has reached two-digit results. It was only the slightly lower June transshipments, considering the record turnover of last June, which lowered the final result for the last six months.
Nevertheless, according to initial data, the more than 4% increase is a result which only Klaipeda managed to beat in the Baltic area, recording a 5.7% increase compared to 2015. The other Baltic ports, in particular the Latvian ones and Tallinn in Estonia, suffered two-digit decreases of as much as 11%. Will these changes bring a reshuffle in the ranking of the largest Baltic seaports? If nothing changes - they probably will. As for today, only 33,000 tonnes separate Gdansk from Riga, which ranked fourth last year - which is a positive signal for the remaining part of the year.
Over PLN 0.5 billion of EU funds will flow into the Port of Gdansk
On 8 July 2016, the CEF Transport Coordinating Committee approved a list of transport projects, including as many as three submitted by the Port of Gdansk Authority SA, for funding from the resources of the Connecting Europe Facility funding instrument.
According to the European Commission's information, 16 Polish undertakings qualified as recommended projects to a total amount of nearly EUR 1.9 billion. The beneficiaries include transport industry entities such as: the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (administrator of the national road infrastructure), PKP PLK (administrator of the national railway infrastructure), Cargotor, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency, and the Port of Gdansk Authority SA - the only representative of the maritime industry on the recommended list.
Two infrastructure projects from the approved list of projects are PGA SA investments, amounting to more than PLN 600 million, involving the modernisation of the fairway along with the expansion of the quays and improvement of navigation conditions in the Inner Port and the modernisation of the road and railway network in the Outer Port. Both undertakings received the highest possible funding available within the programme at a level of as much as 85%.
The third of the approved projects is a study involving the preparation of project and environmental documentation for road and railway tasks for a project that will be carried out in cooperation with the Gdansk Municipality.
A total of nearly EUR 119 million will flow into the Port of Gdansk from the CEF fund and will be the highest EU subsidy in the port's history to date.
In accordance with the adopted procedure, the co-financing agreements prepared by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) will be signed by the Port of Gdansk Authority SA in the second half of 2016.
Preparatory works aimed at completing these huge infrastructure projects began over three years ago. They were supervised by special Task Forces appointed especially for this purpose, comprising several dozen specialists from various fields. At the moment, building permit procedures are under way for most tasks.
Projects with EU-recommended status are key infrastructure undertakings, making it possible to modernise the infrastructure, improving access to the port both from land and water. Their significance cannot be overestimated, as they will influence the improvement of safety of navigation at the Port of Gdansk and improve land traffic. The latter has been particularly heavy recently due to increased, even record transshipments recorded at the quays of the port of Gdansk which came to nearly 36 million tonnes in 2015. This year's dynamics shows that it is really possible for the current year to end with a result of as many as 40 million tonnes.
We are all the more optimistic thanks to the decision made by the CEF Transport Coordinating Committee on co-funding the PGA SA projects, as the port's analyses included in the Development Strategy till the year 2027, based on global data, indicate that in 2030, the transshipment volume at the Port of Gdansk may come to approximately 100 million tonnes.
All the recommended projects are very extensive, multidisciplinary undertakings that will be carried out until 2020, probably based on 9 building permits.
Hydrotechnical projects totalling more than EUR 110.2 million (with a subsidy of EUR 93.7 million) involve the dredging of the fairway and the modernisation of the Obroncow Poczty Polskiej Quay, the Mew Quay, the Oliwskie Quay, the Zbozowe Quay, and the Dworzec Drzewny Quay. However, due to the need to perform the dredging work, the investment will also include other quays, such as the Wislane Quay. Building permit applications were already submitted for all the tasks, the last ones are to be issued in September 2016.
The second of the projects, involving the expansion and modernisation of the road and railway network in the Outer Port, is an undertaking totalling more than EUR 28.7 million (with a subsidy of EUR 24.4 million) that will include the construction and redevelopment of roads of a total length of 7.2 km and railway tracks of a total length of 10 km.
The last of the projects added to the recommendation list is a study project totalling EUR 1 million (with a subsidy of EUR 0.5 million), which is to be carried out in partnership with the Gdansk Municipality. It will involve preparation of the project and environmental documentation for the railway infrastructure for the area at the back of the Dworzec Drzewny Quay and for the road infrastructure on Ulica Ku Ujsciu.
However, the three undertakings are not the only projects to benefit the Port of Gdansk under the decision of the CEF Transport Coordinating Committee on granting funds for the Port of Gdansk Authority projects. The recommended projects also include a project submitted by PKP PLK, aimed at improving railway infrastructure leading to the Port of Gdansk, totalling EUR 141.5 million, out of which nearly EUR 116 million will be subsidised by the EU.
This, in turn, means that more than PLN 1 billion will soon flow into the Port of Gdansk, out of which more than PLN 0.5 billion is for projects carried out directly by the Port of Gdansk Authority SA. Such a decision of the European Committee is a confirmation of the Port of Gdansk's considerable importance on the map of the European Union's Trans-European Transport Network and its prospective significance in the context of the development of the Old Continent's logistics map.