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The Szczecin-Świnoujście Port complex reports on cargo handling in 2020

In 2020, at the quays under the administration of the Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority, cargo handling by the port-based companies has reached levels close to those of 2019. The volume handled by the two ports at the end of the year was 31,177.5 thou. tons, which is only 3.1% less than in 2019 (32,174.8 thou. tons).

- Considering the hindrance caused by the pandemic, the cargo handling level can be considered satisfactory, says Krzysztof Urbaś, President of Board, the Seaports Authority. The year of 2020 started with a transhipment decline. During the first quarter alone, cargo handling dropped by 7% in comparison to that of 2019. In April and May, we encountered initial negative impact of the pandemic, especially at the Świnoujście Ferry Terminal. The decline continued until August, whereas September and October brought an increase in cargo handling by 8% year-to-year. In November, we noted a 4.4% increase to reach +7.5% in December, he added.

Universal profile and diversity as success factors

The seaports of Szczecin and Świnoujście succeeded due to their diversity and universal operating profile; decline in one cargo group has been compensated by growth in another.

The unrivalled cargo group is grain with 1,875.7 thou. tons (+43.9%). Fuel and containers were also in the forefront with nearly identical increase of +12% and +14% respectively. Last year, the LNG terminal in Świnoujście handled 14.6% more gas. The terminal attracted 30 and 35 gas carriers calls, respectively in 2019 and 2020. Other cargo groups, such as coal, ore, other bulk and break bulk ended the year at negative levels. We need to note that declines in the above mentioned cargo groups have started in previous years. It is related to such factors as a reduced domestic and foreign steel production, explained President K. Urbaś.

Changes in the cargo structure

For the seaports of Szczecin and Świnoujście, 2020 was yet another year which brought changes to the cargo structure.

In previous years, the two ports, especially Świnoujście, handled chiefly bulk cargo. These were the main ports to handle Polish coal. In the best years, the ports handled 12 m tons of coal a year. Other bulk also included large volumes of ore. However, for the past two to three years, Polish, Czech and Slovak steel mills have been reducing their production capacity. Hence, the import of ore by sea has been lower than in the past.

In the past several years, Szczecin and Świnoujście have changed from bulk-oriented to universal ports were general cargo prevails over bulk. In 2020, the relationship was 54% to 46% respectively.

We can expect that in coming years the cargo handling structure may further change in the port complex. This is related to investment projects in progress in the ports themselves as well as in their access infrastructure. We seriously count on the dredging of the 68 km fairway between Świnoujście and Szczecin.The dredging to 12.5 m may profoundly change the cargo handling profile of Szczecin, says President K. Urbaś. For certain, some bulk cargo will come back to the port, notably grain as it is the main cargo group benefiting from the change. But there are other bulk cargoes as well, e.g. ores of non-ferrous metals. We can also expect more general cargo coming to Szczecin as well, he added.

Strategic investment in progress

The Szczecin and Świnoujście seaports and their vicinity are sites of strategic investment projects that will determine the future of the ports. Three major investment projects are implemented by three different parties, including the Maritime Office of Szczecin, PKP PLK, a railway infrastructure manager, and the Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority. The value of each project is about PLN 1.5 bn.

In July 2019, investment started to improve the rail access to the ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście, whereas September and October 2020 marked the commencement of dredging and modernization of the Świnoujście-Szczecin fairway. In October 2020, the Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority signed contracts for large projects on the Dębicki Canal and Kaszubski Basin in Szczecin. Since 2019, an intermodal transport project has been implemented at the ferry terminal in Świnoujście. Moreover, the designing for the extension of the Świnoujście-based LNG Terminal is almost completed, and technical infrastructure in the two ports has been gradually improved. The latter aims to make the ports more environmentally friendly and cost efficient. The projects are expected to continue in the next few years.

Yet another project is the building of a new outer port in Świnoujście, a project which will completely change the cargo handling model. The LNG terminal project developed the first outer port facility, a container terminal is going to be the second, and the third will be a universal terminal.

- We have land available that can be used to develop port facilities. This is expected to boost the handling capacity and attract new cargo volumes. We have announced the call for interest to find an investor for the West Pomeranian Logistics Centre in the port of Szczecin. We also consider to develop the western part of the Ostrów Grabowski Island as an extension to the ongoing investment in the area of the Dębicki Canal, says President K. Urbaś.

All investment projects in the Szczecin-Świnoujście port complex have been implemented in line with top industry standards and with due respect to the natural environment. After their completion, until 2050, Szczecin and Świnoujście should witness a threefold increase of their annual cargo handling.