BPO’s new Members and action plan 2021

Nov 19 2020

BPO’s new Members and action plan 2021

Baltic Ports Organization’s (BPO) Board gathered yesterday for an online meeting, to discuss the plans for 2021 and officially welcome its newest Members, Ports of Raahe and Pietarsaari. Topics on the agenda were the current situation in regards to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the activities planned for the upcoming year.

The general view was that while the pandemic definitely had an impact, the overall situation is rather good on the cargo side, considering the difficulties all ports and other industries are currently dealing with. Mild downturn in Ro-Ro and container traffic was to be expected, but the cargo side of business is to be considered stable.

Cruise and passenger markets bear the brunt of coronavirus’ impact. According to port representatives being part of the BPO Board, the sector registered drops in passenger traffic ranging from -50% to -80%. There have been little to none cruise calls. This will most probably not improve until the second half of 2021. Travel restrictions implemented by most countries in the Baltic Sea region (BSR) are the obvious reason.

Bogdan Ołdakowski, Secretary General, BPO, said, “The cruise market is of great importance for a number of ports in the BSR. It is key for the organization, to carefully monitor the situation in order to assist our Members in responding to the challenges arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Creating a platform enabling dialogue between affected ports will be a major focus area for the BPO in the coming months and most probably throughout 2021.”

On a more optimistic note, it was good to see that investments and development plans remain unthreatened. This is mainly due to the fact, that infrastructure projects in ports are usually planned over multiple years, even decades. As such, they take possible difficulties along the road into account from the very beginning.

Plans for 2021

Aside from concentrating on the cruise and passenger sectors, the Board Members also discussed the events planned for the next year. Naturally, everyone hopes that the second half of 2021 will finally allow us to return to business as usual, especially in terms of once again having the ability to meet in person.

Therefore, works on the postponed, annual Baltic Ports Conference (BPC) are already underway. The event is set to be held on 2-3 September, 2021, and will be hosted by the Port of Tallinn. Digitalization and smart solutions for ports and the maritime industry will be the main talking points of the BPC 2021 and the BPO is looking forward to once again meeting its Members and other stakeholders in person.

Additionally, the BPO will remain active in addressing environmental issues. We will continue to contribute to the discussion on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction in the industry, as well as topics surrounding other harmful emissions. The shift to alternative fuels for ships and related port development are another important point, vital to the discussion surrounding climate change. As such it also remains an essential part of our activities.

New additions to the BPO family 

Port of Raahe, situated on the west coast of Finland, is best known for handling products (sawn timber, pulpwood) and steel products. Since September 2012, a 5,940 m2-big container stuffing terminal has been running in Lapaluoto, the first automated facility of its kind in the Bothnian Bay

The 2017-established port operator Hooli Stevedoring handles different forest products, as well as project cargo (wind turbine components). Dry bulk goods are also taken care of, most notably cement. Altogether, almost five million tonnes were shipped in and out of Raahe in 2019

The Port of Pietarsaari has even stronger ties to the forest industry. The seaport mainly handles goods such as cellulose, timber, pulp and paper as well as cement and lye along with container traf¬fic (1,639 TEUs in 2019, out of which 905 were ex- and 734 imported). In total, the Port of Pietarsaari/Jakobstad took care of 1.25 mt (817.1kt/433.5kt export/import) last year.

One of Europe’s largest pulp mills, UPM Pietarsaari, is located nearby (it also houses the company’s Alholma sawmill, Alholmens Kraft, said to be the world’s big¬gest bio-fuelled power plant, and wood pro¬curement offices); interestingly, the pulp is directly conveyed from the production line to the port for storing and loading. Port operations (load- and unloading, warehousing) are carried out by Euroports Pietarsaari, which alongside Kraftline also deals in forwarding, chartering, and agency services.

These times require more willingness to cooperate than ever. Only by supporting each other, will we be able to weather the storm. It is heart-warming to see, that the port industry in the BSR remains ready to do just that, by deciding to join forces and exchange knowledge and experience.