More than 37 million tonnes of cargo at the Port of Gdansk.
A summary of 2016.
The past year was long heralded as a special one for the Port of Gdansk, both in terms of the predicted transshipments and the investments carried out here, as well as on account of the fact that Gdansk moved up in the ranking of the largest seaports on the Baltic Sea.
All of these forecasts were realised and today we can say with certainty that the Polish port has reached a peak, taking sixth position in the Baltic Sea in terms of overall transshipment volumes for the first time.
2016 was also the fifth year in a row in which the Port of Gdansk consolidated second place in the Baltic basin in terms of container turnover. Initially, in 2012, when Gdansk came second in the ranking for the first time, there was still a gap of 1.6 million TEU between the Polish port and the Port of St. Petersburg, the largest container port in the basin. Meanwhile, in 2015, this disparity decreased to a level of 623,000 TEU, and last year, the difference was only 445,000 TEU.
From the very beginning, 2016 abounded in many important events. In January, the port celebrated the completion of the expansion of the intermodal container terminal in the Inner Port. That same month, a new cold storage unit was put into operation, constructed by PAGO, which specialises in the comprehensive logistics of frozen products in Poland.
In March, as part of an initiative to increase the level of safety at the port, four key investments worth a total of PLN 15 million were completed. A specialist new PGA SA Rescue Centre was opened and now functions as the Coordination and Rescue Centre bringing together all of the services responsible for safety at the port. A hydrographic and inspection motor boat was purchased which now guards the hydrographic safety of the Port of Gdansk and is additionally used to make specialist environmental measurements of the basin and hydrological measurements of the sea bed. A quick response environmental rescue vessel was also purchased, which is used on a daily basis for reconnaissance and patrolling activities, but also guarantees full effectiveness in conditions requiring rescue, environmental, and fire-fighting interventions. The Strazak 6 fire and rescue vessel was thoroughly modernised.
Soon after, the commissioning of a huge investment by the PERN company, which built six crude oil tanks in Gdansk, was completed. In April, the first underwater road tunnel in Poland was ceremonially opened, and connected the left and right banks of the port.
A month later, the first quay cranes to be used at the DCT container terminal, then undergoing expansion, came to Gdansk. The terminal was ultimately, ceremonially opened in October 2016. Thus, yet another important period for the Port of Gdansk began, involving further consolidation of its position in the Baltic Sea as an important container port, as after the investment was completed, the DCT terminal became not only the largest container terminal in terms of transshipment volume, but also the largest in the basin in terms of throughput capacity.
Halfway through the year (July 2016), Gdansk also received key information, discovering that the CEF Transport Coordinating Committee had approved a list of transport projects for subsidies from the resources of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), an EU funding instrument, including as many as three projects submitted by the Port of Gdansk Authority SA, amounting to a total of PLN 600 million. The decision was eventually confirmed in October, when the Port of Gdansk Authority SA signed the agreements for EU grants.
Towards the end of the 3rd quarter of the past year, another investment of great significance for the future of the port was completed - the modernisation of rail line no. 226 and the construction of a railway bridge over the Martwa Wisla, constituting the primary transport axis for railway traffic at the port.
During the past year, the Port of Gdansk also considerably increased cooperation with China, which was reflected in two letters of intent signed with some of the largest Chinese seaports - the Port of Qingdao (June 2016) and the Port of Guangzhou (October 2016).
In a word, nearly every month brought Gdansk some good news about ongoing enhancements of the port's potential, which ultimately resulted in another record commodity turnover at the end of the year - at a level of as many as 37.3 million tonnes, i.e. nearly 4% more than in 2015.
This time, the largest participation in the port's commodity structure belonged to general cargo, while in 2015, it constituted a little over 30% of Gdansk's entire cargo volume. Now, its participation increased by as many as 7 percentage points, to a level of 39%, outstripping liquid fuel turnover for the first time in history. All that thanks to the very high volume of container transshipments, which reached a level of 1.3 million TEU within the last 12 months, i.e. 19% more than in 2015 and 7.2% more than in the record year 2014. From the point of view of tonnage, the dynamics of container turnover was even higher, and increased by 25% compared to 2015 and by 29% compared to 2014.
In total, in 2016, more than 14.5 million tonnes of general cargo was handled on Gdansk's quays, i.e. 23% more than in 2015.
The volume of transshipments in the liquid fuel group was also quite high, amounting to nearly 13 million tonnes. This result is, admittedly, nearly 13% worse than in 2015, however, it is still the third best result in the last decade in this commodity group, after 2015 and 2010. 2016 was also an exceptional period, clearly reflecting changes in the transshipments of crude oil. Just a year earlier, the ratio of imported crude oil to exported crude oil was 97% to 3%. Meanwhile, in the past year, that ratio was already 85% to 15%, mainly due to the newly built PERN tanks operating here, which restored exported crude oil transit at the port.
The transshipments of coal are also worthy of special attention, as they have exceeded the level of 5 million tonnes (a 13% increase compared to 2015), a level unattainable in recent years. The last best result in this respect was recorded 12 years ago, when in 2005, nearly 7 million tonnes of coal were handled in Gdansk. Since then, the transshipments in this commodity group at the port were very uneven and fluctuated within the range from 1 million tonnes in 2008 to 4.6 million in 2013.
The direction of trade in this raw material has also changed considerably. While in 2015, the predominant function was the export of coal and coke, which constituted 57% in the group's transshipment structure at the time, last year it was only 38%.
Within the past 12 months, very good transshipment results were also achieved in other bulk cargo - a total of 3.5 million tonnes (excluding ore) were handled on the port's quays, i.e. 4% more than a year earlier. Since 2014, the turnover of this type of cargo in Gdansk has been relatively stable (in 2014, it was 3.6 million tonnes, and in 2015 - 3.4 million tonnes). The commodity structure of cargo in this category was similar. Just like in 2015, the transshipment of aggregate constituted nearly a half, amounting to 1.66 million tonnes last year. Almost half a million tonnes of granulated sulphur and nearly 200,000 tonnes of feldspar were also recorded. A large, over 70% increase in the transshipment of soda was characteristic of last year, with a total of 280,000 tonnes handled.
2016 was also another successive year, in which the port recorded a large increase in ore turnover. A year earlier, about 85,000 tonnes were handled, while in 2016, the volume of ore exceeded the level of 200,000 tonnes and, as the operator forecasts, successive growth can be expected in the coming periods.
2016 did not go without decreases, however. The last 12 months brought a 21% lower volume of cereals, at a level of 1.15 million tonnes compared to 1.6 million in 2015. The decrease of more than 60% in transshipments of ground grain was primarily to blame here, although in 2015, it constituted 40% in the cereals turnover structure in Gdansk. Luckily, this decrease was effectively compensated by a 25% increase in the transshipment of wheat and a 113% increase in the export of corn.
The past year was also the first period in the last two years in which an increase in the participation of export in cargo turnover at the port could be observed. Both in 2014 and 2015, the ratio of export to import was 39% to 61%, while in the past year, export transshipments constituted more than 41%.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the past 12 months confirmed the continuation of the steady upward trend in vessel size. While in 2015, the average size of vessels calling at the port for trading purposes was 16,910 GT, in 2016, this increased by another 8%, reaching 18,304 GT. This is an increase in commercial vessel size of as much as 123% within a decade, and it can be expected that this will continue this year as well.
What will the year which started just a few weeks ago bring? Will it be as successful as 2016? This is difficult to predict, but the forecasts for individual transshipment terminals and operators are relatively optimistic. The final summary, though, will have to wait another 12 months.