PORTS. Ambitious Plans Driving the Port of Klaipėda Forward

 

Austėja Radvilaitė

Consistent state and private investments into the infrastructure and superstructure resulted in vivid changes in the landscape of the port of Klaipėda in recent years. In order to create favourable logistic conditions for its partners, Klaipėda State Seaport Authority has laid out the port’s strategy until 2020 and keeps outlining ambitious future plans 25 years ahead. Arvydas VAITKUS, Director of Klaipėda State Seaport Authority, regards consistent investments into the improvement of operational conditions and the ability of the port’s operators to use them as the port’s major competitive tool.

Last year the port of Klaipėda saw the peak of the cargo handling results, exceeding 40 million tonnes, while the first half of this year looks promising as well with 20.6 million tonnes already handled. What are the major factors for such results?
First of all, the huge contribution and merits of the port’s handling companies, as well as constant (especially in recent years) investments of the Seaport Authority into infrastructure, which also contribute to the good results. This is a result of our fruitful synergy, because timely investments into infrastructure and superstructure help to keep our port competitive.
In recent years the port of Klaipėda has undergone big changes by becoming the centre for container and bulk cargo distribution, as well as entering the category of global ports. We also have a new passenger terminal. The LNG terminal project was implemented in a record-breaking time and we keep developing all related activity.
It is also important to ensure sufficient depth in the port’s channel. The external shipping channel was dredged to 15.5 metres already last year and this enabled us to confirm a new permissible draft to 13.8 m in a part of the port. This became a new signal for cargo exporters, communicating the message that the port of Klaipėda can now accept larger ships, which may be more fully loaded, reducing costs in the entire logistics chain.
One of the most significant works currently implemented is the preparation for dredging Malkų Bay. We have no doubt that this large-scale project will increase the port’s competitiveness, enabling companies to increase their handling volumes and accept larger ships for reparations.
Of course, the port is also undergoing reconstructions at many of its berths, adapting them for the future larger depths, as well as other infrastructure, railway and road reconstruction and construction works.

You mentioned the LNG terminal, which started operating at the port of Klaipėda in 2015, currently featuring the development of the over ground LNG distribution station. What stage is it in?
Increasing volumes of LNG handling and the capacity reservation agreements, signed with the terminal users, show that Lithuania’s decision to have an LNG terminal was a correct and important step both to our country and the entire region. Operations of transferring gas from the storage vessel into small-scale gas carriers, launched at the port of Klaipėda this year, should become usual for the port’s activity.

When someone asks you to list the port’s major advantages, what do you pick?
By asking this question you really risk your time, because I could speak for hours. While earlier the first thing to mention used to be the fact that our port is ice-free (which is, of course, very important), what I would like to highlight today is that we are a safe, innovative, increasingly environmentally-friendly and transparent port. Our partners often say that our transparent, clear and understandable activity is our greatest advantage.
According to types of transport that brings cargo to our port, we are one of the most environmentally-friendly ports in Europe with about 80 per cent of cargo brought here by railway. The port of Klaipėda and our specialised terminals (33 so far) use the most modern and innovative technology, which also improves our environment.

Competition for cargo is huge and will likely only increase. What are the future plans and ambitions of the only port of Lithuania?
By making constant investments into the infrastructure and superstructure, the port and its users aim to create the most favourable conditions possible to its partners both in Lithuania and abroad.
In recent dozen of years our port’s handling volumes keep increasing on average by 6.6 per cent every year. In order to maintain our volumes and competitiveness, we must plan the port’s activity decades ahead.
We see and feel global tendencies – ships’ parameters increase every year. We must be ready for these changes and aim to be able to accept the largest ships that can enter the Baltic Sea. The port of Klaipėda already feels rather tight in terms of territory, making it also very important to have greater depth at the entrance channel and the water area. The reconstruction of the entrance channel and the piers is also among some of our nearest plans. These are especially important in order to secure a safe entrance for the largest ships in difficult weather conditions, at the same time maintaining their higher speed.
The port of Klaipėda has a clear and precise strategy until 2020.
We are also preparing the port’s development plan, which will include the next 25 years. The expected tendencies of the port development will help answer questions regarding the lack of depth and territory. We have no doubt that the port development will make a substantial potential for industrial and economic development, strengthening Klaipėda city, as well as giving an impulse for educational institutions preparing specialists for various fields.

 

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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been
published since 1999.

ISSN 1392-7825

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