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Port in the act

Port in the act

01/03/2012 | Channel: Ports & Harbours

EU-funded fairway expansion

New container terminal

Major forest products handler

Norrköping is an old Swedish port town and maritime trade has been a part of the city’s life since the Middle Ages. For the last 150 years, because Sweden retains an organisational model combining port authority with stevedoring management, both operations have been handled by the municipally owned Norrköping Hamn och Stuveri (NHS), or Norrköping Port and Stevedoring Company. Its prime location on Sweden’s south east coast, looking out onto the Baltic Sea, has long made it an export hub for industries throughout the country including wood products, technical equipment and petroleum.

Due to this status, the Port of Norrköping has a strong intermodal infrastructure that supports road and rail networks as well. Furthermore the Port of Norrköping has recently landed an important role as the main supply base for the major Nordstream pipeline project, bringing new status to the port.

The whole port can be broken into four key areas: the deepwater Pampus Terminal is a full-service facility, able to handle a range of cargo traffic for containers and break-bulk; an oil harbour for tankers; Inner Harbour for bulk goods; and the Öhman Terminal for break-bulk and project cargos. As part of an ongoing programme to ensure the port’s users have the best facilities possible at their disposal, NHS has made a number of investments over the last few years that have seen these three areas expand significantly. Perhaps the most important of these is the dredging of the fairway that was finished in June 2011. “It was both a broadening and deepening of the fairway carried out by the Dutch company Van Oord,” explains marketing manager Ola Hjartstrom.

“The fairway now has a depth of 14.9 metres with the possibility of loading vessels down to 13.5 metres, which for the Baltic Sea is a good depth. We have already seen benefits from this project, with a lot more interest from shipping companies – not only container operators but tankers as well. It has been a major project carried out in conjunction with the Swedish Maritime Authority and financed by the EU through its Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) fund. Because of the scale of the work and Norrköping’s history as an intermodal port, the EU has been highlighting the fairway dredging as one of TEN-T’s most successful projects.”

The other major investment made by NHS was in the construction of a new container terminal two years ago. As an integrated combination terminal, or combi terminal, Pampus Terminal is designed to bring sea, road and rail networks together with direct connections and is located in a newer part of the port specifically intended for this. It has been equipped with two Liebherr gantry cranes and expansive storage areas to provide users with efficient unitised cargo services. The flexibility now available has proved popular with companies and helped the port to achieve a healthy import/export balance.

“Both these projects reflect an increasing amount of traffic at the port and our desire to improve its accessibility around the clock,” Ola says. “For example, because the number of calls have been increasing for some time at Norrköping, we’ve had to increase the crane capacity across the Pampus Terminal so we brought in a new Mantsinen HybriLift mobile crane that was delivered and put into operation just a few weeks ago. Its primary purpose is for our wood and forest products trade, but also for other break-bulk. We have also invested in a range of reach stackers, forklifts and other cargo handling assets that help us to serve many vessels at the same time.”

The full range of goods passing through the Port of Norrköping includes containers and road trailers, paper, pulp, logs, sawn timber, wood chips, steel products, coal, salt, cereals, grain, fertilisers, petroleum and niche equipment such as transformers. As this list suggests, despite the rise of container traffic, forest products remains the core focus of NHS, and in particular sawn timber, for which Norrköping is one of the largest exporters in Sweden.

Reinforcing this position as a crucial forest products exporter is the recent building of the country’s largest saw mill adjacent to the port. Owned by Holmen – a pulp and paper company supplying, in particular, paper for newspapers in Europe – the facility has fully integrated its IT systems with that of NHS to enable the Port of Norrköping to handle all of Holmen’s exports in the area. This includes not just products to be shipped abroad but also those that are to be transported by road and rail to the rest of Sweden as well.

As Ola points out, this is an excellent example of the port’s good intermodal connections: “We have focused on intermodality for quite a long time and that is one of the reasons, I would say, the EU found it interesting to finance a dredging of the fairway. It wasn’t just a dredging project, it was part of a much larger integration concept that bridges the mainline rail network in Sweden with major highways and easy access to the Baltic and North Sea. Holmen benefits from this and so will many other companies.”

Taking all of these advances over the last few years into account, NHS has performed excellently even through the recession. The business has increased steadily over the last 15 years and despite a momentary stumble during 2008/2009, the company’s figures have continued to grow since. Parallel to this is the net result of turnover and the company’s overall finances, which have remained strong due largely to the flexibility of the port and its ability to handle many different types of goods. At its worse, no more than ten per cent of volume was lost during the financial crisis.

This of course puts NHS and the Port of Norrköping in an excellent position for the future. Ola thus concludes on an upbeat note: “Port infrastructure and resources are stronger than ever before. Looking forward, there will begin to be more urban and residential developments around and within the port area, so we are looking at long-term projects for creating new port areas over the next five to ten years. With the new fairway now in operation and a huge investment programme behind us, both our customers and we are excited about the future.”