For each EFIP meeting, a 'Port Highlight' will be published, which is an interview with the host port of the following internal meeting. With this new section on our website, we are helping you to discover Europe’s inland ports and understand their differences.
On 27-28 April 2017, EFIP's members gathered in Szczecin (Poland) for their Executive Committee meeting. The Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority, which joined EFIP in September 2016, is responsible for the only Polish seaport that is connected to inland waterways. Let's have a closer look!
EFIP: Can you tell us more about the Port of Szczecin-Świnoujście? What are the main characteristics and challenges for your port?
The Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority, a joint-stock company with the majority interest of the State Treasury, is responsible for two ports that are of primary significance for the Polish economy: the ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście. The vision of the company is: Szczecin and Świnoujście - leading ports on the South Baltic Sea and the mission is: Creating conditions supporting the development of the ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście as the most universal port complex in the South Baltic Sea.
The Ports of Szczecin-Świnoujście are universal and the port complex is one of the largest complexes on the Baltic. The ports in Szczecin and Świnoujście have access to a well-developed hinterland transport system, since they are an element of the Trans-European Transport Network TENT-T. The ports are linked to the European highway system by the A11 and A20 highways, and with southern Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia by the national road no 3 (E-65). Both ports have also favourable railway connections with entire Poland as well as with Western and Southern Europe. The accessibility – as the only Polish seaports – to the inland shipping, which is regarded by the European Union as the most environment friendly one, is an undeniable asset. Such access to the inland water system of Western Europe has a special meaning for the service of the German market. The barge transit directly reaches many important economic centres in Berlin and Brandenburg.
The specific location of the ports in Szczecin and Świnoujście makes them complementary to each other. Thanks to its location at the coast, Świnoujście can not only provide with highly effective ferry connection, but it also offers access to bigger vessels with draught up to 13,2 m. The port in Szczecin, located 68 km away from the sea, is accessible for vessels with draught up to 9,15 m. Situated much closer to consignees and consigners of the handled cargo, this port gives the opportunity to reach the land by the cheapest sea transport mode. In Świnoujście, the main activities take place in the terminal for dry bulk cargo and ferry terminal for connections to/from Sweden. Szczecin offers services both to general cargo (containers, steel products, forest products and heavy lifts) and to bulk cargo (dry and liquid). Both ports offer also services for agri-food products. The yearly turnover of the port complex amounts ca. 24 million tonnes.
For several years, the Szczecin and Świnoujście Ports Authority has been one of the largest investors utilising EU funding in the region. In 2007-2013, both ports implemented projects worth more than PLN 600 million - co-funded by the EU. Plans for 2014-2020 are even more ambitious: the Port Authority intends to carry out investments worth PLN 1.3 billion. Another PLN 2 billion is the amount of planned investments to improve access to both ports, which will be carried out by other entities. All this will create a new quality in the handling of cargo and investors. The priority of investment activities is to improve the accessibility of the ports and thequality of service for means of transport. For this purpose, new quays are built and existing ones are upgraded for handling larger vessels. Thanks to the development of the port infrastructure, the main quays offering services to bulk and general cargo in Szczecin will have a depth of 12.5 m, and in Świnoujście 14.5m. In addition, the ferry terminal in Świnoujście will be adapted to better serve intermodal transport. There is also the idea of building deep-water quays in both ports in order to meet the ever-increasing requirements of the market.
EFIP: The open session of our next Executive Committee meeting (28 April) focuses on the theme: “Unlocking the potential of the Oder River”. You are the only Polish seaport connected to inland waterways, enabling barge shipments (e.g. to the Berlin and Brandenburg regions). Could you tell us more about the perspectives and opportunities that a stronger hinterland connection could give to you, Poland and the EU?
Effective connections to the hinterland are crucial considering conducted investment activities improving the accessibility of Szczecin and Swinoujscie from the water side. These actions will create greater opportunities for cargo handling, and as a result, it will require more effective communication with the port hinterland. In recent years, both ports have been adapting to these requirements. Thus, the Ports of Szczecin-Świnoujście have already got completely modernised road infrastructure (including 9 km of rebuilt roads), 600 brand new parking spaces for trucks and almost 36 km of railway tracks are rebuilt and modernised at both ports, adjusted to the parameters on international railway routes of E-59 and CE-59.
However, apart from the investments conducted within the port, the state of the roads, railways and waterways connecting ports with the hinterland is vital for the development of the Szczecin-Świnoujście ports too. Therefore, projects of which the implementation is a responsibility of other entities are also important for improving the accessibility of both ports. These are especially: the adaptation of national road No. 3, which is part of the international road E65, to the standards of the expressway, the modernisation of the railway networks E-59 and CE-59, the part of a transport connection linking the Nordic countries and the Baltic states to Central and Southern Europe. Moreover, deepening the Świnoujście-Szczecin fairway to 12.5 m will change the parameters of the maximum bulk carrier that can be handled in Szczecin. This will be increased to 40 thousand tonnes and the maximum container ships will be increased up to 35 thousand tonnes.
Of course, improvement of the navigability of the Oder river is of great importance too. Generally, nowadays the theme of Polish inland waterway backs with great force and the activities of its reconstruction are a priority. Among them there is the restoration of the navigability of the Polish rivers and Polish accession to the AGN Convention (that was done at the beginning of 2017). Inland navigation has become a priority in the investment plans of transport infrastructure in Poland.
The main goal of the development of inland waterways regarding transport is the construction and modernisation of inland waterways to the parameters of at least navigability class IV and the adaptation to the requirements of the infrastructure of inland water transport network TEN-T. This objective is divided into four priorities, including eleven tasks in total. One of them concerns the Oder Waterway (E30) and assumes the international class navigability and inclusion in the European network of waterways.
Although the Oder River is a natural waterway, due to many years of negligence its potential still remains underutilised. However, examples of other ports such as Hamburg and Antwerp show that inland shipping is an excellent complement to services provided by ports. Similar solutions can also be applied in the Szczecin-Świnoujście port complex.
The Oder Waterway has the potential of attracting cargo to the ports. Today, companies around the Oder Waterway generate annually nearly 10 million tonnes of cargo in maritime traffic. It is estimated that after 2020 this volume could rise up to 20 million tonnes per year.
It is worth supporting it, since the development of navigation on the Oder provides Szczecin and Świnoujście with access to three affordable modes of transport, namely sea, inland waterway and rail.
EFIP: In 2016, the Szczecin-Świnoujście seaports handled over 24 million tonnes of cargo, which translates into a 4% increase in comparison to 2015. We understood this was mainly possible thanks to the establishment of the LNG terminal in Świnoujście and the Ewa grain silo in Szczecin. As the market is very dynamic, it is important to offer a variety of services and to be active across many fields. What are the expectations for the future and which other segments are being developed?
Szczecin-Świnoujście is a universal port complex providing service to nearly every kind of cargo. In 2016, the Ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście handled 24.1 million tonnes of cargo, which accounted for 4% growth in comparison to 2015. It is the best result that has been recorded in the Ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście since the eighties. The increase in cargo handling was recorded thanks to increased handling of general cargo of 1.1 million tonnes, ie. almost 10% (especially thanks to the ferry terminal in Świnoujście), the growth of oil and gas by 0.6 million tonnes, ie. about 32% (increase in cargo handling of LNG), the growth of grain by 0.3 million tonnes, ie. about 17% (all grain terminals – both in Świnoujscie and Szczecin - recorded increases). Such a large increase in cargo handling was recorded despite a drop in transshipment of coal, ore and other dry bulk.
Our aim is to continue the tendency of being a universal port. As to the turnover forecast, we predict further increase in cargo handling to over 25 million tonnes. The prediction assumes the main increase in the handling of general cargo - of about 7-9% (including conventional general cargo, ro-ro and container, as well as intermodal), an increase in transshipment of liquid bulk cargo by 25-30% (mainly thanks to the LNG terminal), and in handling dry bulk cargo such as grain, ore, fertilizers, chemicals, aggregates and building materials.
EFIP: The Port of Szczecin-Swinoujscie is an environmental pioneer among Polish ports. In 2004, you were the first to introduce a system of waste receipt from ships and sewage utilisation within the port area. Which other key initiatives and projects are being created that stimulate sustainable economic growth? How to find the balance between fighting climate change while making sure that the industry stays a strong contributor to Polish and regional prosperity and employment after 2050?
The balance between the impact on climate change and the actions that impact the economic development in the region can be achieved only through strict adaptation to the rules setting standards for emission of substances relevant to the climate into the air. We are aware that adjusting to the legal requirements may - in the future - result in organising tasks and projects aimed at improving air quality within the region.
Up till now, each investment concerning port infrastructure development, which stimulates economic growth in the region, is preceded by a detailed analysis of the impact of its implementation on the environment. It is considered both at their construction and operation stages. In addition, it is analysed both in the context of the cross-border region and in connection with other projects implemented and exploited in the same area. In particular, the following issues are analysed: impact on people, plants, animals, fungi and natural habitats, water and air, the surface of the earth, climate change and landscape, monuments and cultural landscape, balance of the consumption of natural resources, energy and emission balance in connection with the implementation of the project.
All projects, which can have an impact on the environment, can be realised only under the condition of obtaining a decision on environmental conditions issued by a relevant institution.
Therefore, the Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority SA, as an investor, can be assured that implemented projects provide economic development of the port areas, and thus, strengthen the economy at regional and national levels, while at the same time respecting the environment now and in the long term.
EFIP: As a new member of EFIP, which benefits are you noticing of being part of our community? How do you think our association could help you to reach your expected targets?
The Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority is an active member of associations and organisations supporting the development of inland waterway transport in Poland and Europe. As a new member of EFIP (we have been there for ½ year now) we perceive actions and initiatives of EFIP as the most active ones among all organisations that support the development of inland shipping in the EU.
Thanks to regular meetings with both large and small inland ports, we have a wide view of the situation of inland navigation in an integrated transport system in Europe. Thanks to membership in EFIP, ports integrate one to another in relation to inland navigation. By actively tracking all the transport events in the EU, the importance of inland waterways and inland ports increases. Active participation in discussions that take place in the EU institutions makes EFIP a strong “weapon” in the battle for a strong position of this mode of transport in Europe.
A good example of an advantage of being an EFIP member is receiving knowledge about studies conducted by DG Move on support measures for the implementation of the TEN-T core network related to seaports, inland ports and inland waterway transport. This helped us to take further initiatives concerning the inland navigation matters in our local area.
As a new member of EFIP we can declare an active part in the works for strengthening the position of inland shipping and inland ports in the European transport chain.