An interview with Łukasz Greinke, President of the Port of Gdansk Authority SA
- You manage the Port of Gdansk with the DCT terminal, currently one of the most important container players in the Baltic Sea. How do you see the project of building a deepwater container terminal in Świnoujście?
- Thanks to the determination and consistently implemented strategy, the Port of Gdansk with the DCT container terminal is today the largest player in the Baltic Sea region. Of which, as the Port of Gdansk Authority, we are of course very proud. In recent years, Polish ports have been dynamically developing and implementing multi-million investments, thanks to which transshipments are growing and the entire economy ultimately benefits. I have been observing the maritime industry for many years and I have always perceived it from the perspective of business and development opportunities. Any business needs healthy competition. The planned location of the terminal itself at the mouth of the Odra River, at the intersection of many inland routes, suggests the potential of this terminal, which is ultimately to be confirmed by the market in a transparent and competitive competition procedure announced by the Szczecin-Świnoujście Seaports Authority.
- Most of the experts, entrepreneurs and scientists who spoke about the said project indicate the strengths of the concept, the business justification for the location of the terminal in Świnoujście. But there are also fears in the media that the next terminal may lead to "cannibalization", devastating competition between Polish ports. Marek Tarczyński, chairman of the Council of the Polish Chamber of Forwarding and Logistics, claims, however, that the effect of such projects is rather healthy competition. Your opinion on this matter?
- The main goal to which we aspire is to permanently strengthen Polish seaports as leaders among the ports of the Baltic Sea basin, which play the role of key nodes of global supply chains for Central and Eastern Europe, and to increase their share in the socio-economic development of the country. Of course, I can speak from the perspective of our port. From the beginning of my work at the Port of Gdansk, we set clear goals and, together with our team, we consistently implement them, so that our port becomes an increasingly attractive place to locate business. We carry out investments with our current and future contractors in mind. Because ultimately it is business that decides where and how it will develop. At the Port of Gdańsk, we constantly monitor the market, because it dictates the conditions and indicates the directions of action. This is also the case with the terminal project in Świnoujście. Our experience shows that if there is new infrastructure, our contractors know how to use it. In the case of Świnoujście, there is a potential for inland navigation and road and rail connections with Silesia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary.
- How do you rate the ocean container shipping market?
- Cargo containerization is constantly progressing, and one of the most dynamically developing markets in the world is the Baltic Sea region, where containerization rates are much lower than those in Western Europe. The key to developing ocean container shipping is to build an infrastructure that enables the right number of ocean vessels to call at one time. Thus, the Port of Gdańsk is constantly planning to expand its reloading capacity in this cargo group.
- The very specific plans for the expansion of the Gdańsk port are certainly the result of these observations and analyzes?
- Analyzing the market and the growth prospects that are drawn before it, Gdańsk is trying to strengthen its position in the Baltic Sea, therefore, as part of the DCT container terminal, after the construction of the first terminal, a second terminal was built in a short time, and the railway infrastructure located in the terminal was expanded. What's more, the Port of Gdansk has just completed a road and rail investment that will improve access to the container terminal, which will further increase its capacity. Already today, the DCT terminal is the largest terminal in the Baltic Sea. It should also be remembered that currently the Port of Gdansk Authority is conducting a competition procedure aimed at selecting a lessee or lessees interested in establishing new sea areas, building port infrastructure and conducting port activities in this area. We hope that the results of the procedure will allow us to further expand the infrastructure enabling the reloading of containers. Our estimates show that Gdańsk may become the largest container hub in the Baltic Sea with a capacity of up to 7 million TEU per year.
- When will Gdańsk take over the lead among the Baltic ports?
- It's already happening. We are constantly growing in strength, advancing in the rankings and proving that we still have the potential to grow. The first quarter of 2021 additionally strengthened our high position in the Baltic Sea. We closed it not only with a promotion to the third place among all Baltic ports, but also we jumped to the first place in the container ranking. Total transshipments at the Port of Gdansk during the first four months amounted to 17.3 million tonnes. It's about 15.2 percent. more than in the same period last year. We are the fastest-growing European port of the last decade, and after summing up 2020, we moved up to the 18th place in Europe. (PJ)