APM Terminals: Russia, Eastern Europe Serve as European Port Growth Drivers
Ben Vree, APM Terminals Europe Region CEO, cited healthy projected volume increases in Eastern Europe and the increasingly important Russian market as bright spots in an otherwise gloomy outlook for European container market growth as a keynote speaker at the TOC Container Supply Chain Conference Europe event at the port industry’s largest annual European conference.
Dramatic increases in berth and crane productivity through the use of new automation will also prove to be a deciding factor in terminal operators’ success at established European hub ports with the introduction of the newest 18,000+ TEU class vessels on the Far East/Europe trade lane.
“Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of area, 9th by population and 6th globally in terms of national GDP, but Russian ports handled less than five million TEUs last year” noted Mr. Vree, adding “clearly this will change, particularly with Russia’s joining of the World Trade Organization”.
The Port of St. Petersburg, Russia’s primary container port, at present ranks in the bottom half of the Top Hundred container ports globally, with an annual throughout of under three million TEUs. APM Terminals last year completed the acquisition of a 37.5% partnership share in Global Port Investments, Russia’s largest container terminal operator by volume, which operates two container terminals in St. Petersburg, and one in the Russian Far Eastern port of Vostochny, as well having interests in facilities in Helsinki and Kotka, Finland, and an oil terminal in Tallinn, Estonia.
The most recent industry analyst forecasts have identified Eastern Europe as the fastest- growing global region in terms of container volume, with 7.3% growth projected for 2013, followed by 6.7% for the Middle East, and Southeast Asia at 6.1%. By contrast, North European ports have been forecast to grow at an annualized rate of 0.8% for the year, against a projected overall global growth rate of between 6%-7%.
Growth in the global container fleet, however, continues to surge, with vessels of 10,000 TEU capacity and above representing at 106 vessels, a quarter of all new container ships on order, and half of additional global fleet capacity. As terminal productivity has not kept pace with overall volume growth, the need for solutions for timely working of Ultra-Large Containerships such as the newly launched 18,000 TEU capacity Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, or the five 18,400 TEU vessels ordered this month by China Shipping, has become more urgent.
“Automated operations such as those we are introducing at our new container terminal at Rotterdam Maasvlakte II will be the difference in meeting shipping lines’ needs and enabling their new generation of vessels to maintain schedule integrity. The terminal will be a blueprint of the future for terminal operations,” commented Mr. Vree.
Automation also offers quantum leap improvements in safety and environmental improvement.
“The separation of people from machinery is the best solution to improve the industry’s safety performance and eliminate injuries and fatalities to ensure employees get home safe. Equally important, we are creating the first terminal in the world with zero emissions from cargo handling equipment. Automated transport allows us to use electrical power for all physical movement within the terminal. With electrical power – we also can keep track of our energy costs and adjust sourcing options – based on the costs of oil, gas, solar and wind over time. So we have a more adaptable power sourcing option to control our costs. That is a new development for terminal operations and cost management. In Rotterdam, 65% of the MVII cargos will move by barge or rail and this aligns with the port’s overall goal to reduce truck traffic and emissions. The company is also making a significant investment in rail – we will have a barge terminal and an ondock rail terminal to reduce our environmental footprint”, added Mr. Vree.
Press Release, June 27, 2013