Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Port Consolidation Continues as Two Nation Facility Sets Growth Agenda

Cooperation Between Former Rivals is Seen as the Way Forward
Shipping News Feature

NETHERLANDS – BELGIUM – It seems that the modern belief of port management, certainly in Europe, is that there is strength in consolidation. We have seen this this year alone with Haropa, that cooperation joining the ports of Le Havre, Rouen and Paris in France and two Thames side UK ports, London Gateway and Forth Ports Tilbury, linking up for the Thames Freeport project.

Now the unsubtly, and some might say arrogantly, named North Sea Port, which exists in a 60 kilometre long zone across two countries, has released details of its 8 point strategic plan, ‘Connect 2025’ approved unanimously this week by its eight public shareholders. These are spread between the province of Zeeland, which holds a 25% stake, Borssele, Terneuzen and Vlissingen municipalities while on the Flemish side they are the city of Ghent with 48.52% and the municipalities of Evergem and Zelzate and the province of East Flanders, who have minor holdings.

The aim is to boost the port, created in 2018 from the Dutch Zeeland Seaports (Vlissingen and Terneuzen) and the Flemish/Belgian port of Ghent, into a higher position on the scale of European ports whilst following a principled programme furthering the goals of economic development and employment, sustainability and climate care, plus a sound financial foundation.

Currently the conglomerate stands only ninth amongst its European competitors in terms of volume of goods which pass through and the port believes the diverse range of activities which it hosts makes it more resilient than some of its rivals. It states it will be concentrating on its seven ‘spearhead’ sectors of chemicals, steel, construction materials, energy, automotive, food and feed and value-added logistics to promote growth.

Certainly the 9,100 hectares which the port encompasses has the potential, with a zone which hosts 550 companies employing over 100,000 people and now a mandate to expand, prompting CEO Daan Schalck to comment:

“With specific choices, support and ambitious goals, we want to achieve concrete results with social added value by acting as a connector towards 2025.We are developing 150 hectares for the circular economy, further expanding the reuse of CO2 continuing our growth as Western Europe’s leading hydrogen cluster, committing to enhanced electrification, making the logistics chain sustainable, building infrastructure in consultation with businesses and public authorities and striving to increase digitisation."