Despite the crisis in global trade, the year 2011 brought the port of Gdansk the fourth best result in history with 25.3 million tonnes. At the same time it was not only a statistical success, as there occurred a clear change in the quality of throughput structure: Gdansk port became a versatile port - a port for any ship and any cargo, according to PGA SA Press Office.
At the press conference of January 26th PGA SA summed up the effectiveness of last year's activity of Gdansk port. Record throughput in the years 1978 and 1979 (27.7/26.5 million tonnes) was achieved due to handling large quantities of coal (11.7 and 10.9 million tonnes) and liquid fuels (6.2 and 6.4 million tonnes). The success of 2010 (27.2 million tonnes) was also based on the throughput of that bulk cargo but the quantities were swapped: liquid fuels totalled 14.4 million tonnes and coal 3.2 million tonnes. However, coal was pushed out of the second place by general cargo (6.1 million tonnes), 85% of which was handled as containerised cargo (nearly 510 thou TEU). Despite the crisis in global trade, the year 2011 brought the fourth best result in history to the port of Gdansk with 25.3 million tonnes. At the same time it was not only a statistical success, as there occurred a clear change in the quality of throughput structure: handling of liquid fuels (41%) and of dry bulk cargo (30%) stopped dominating over the general cargo throughput (29%) to the extent reported in previous years. Gdansk port became a versatile port - a port for any ship and 'any cargo'.
The fact that the Russian petroleum 'escaped' to Russian ports is, obviously, nothing to be pleased with as it left a large portion of Gdansk Naftoport's handling capacity idle. Similarly, a decrease in the world interest in Polish coal negatively influenced the operational effectiveness of the Northern Port. However, PGA SA has no influence on such economic occurrences. Care for the port's development can only manifest itself in adjusting port infrastructure so as to facilitate operators a competitive run for cargo. Preparation of such a depth of entry channels and such a diameter of turning basins that follow world navigation trends as well as ensuring the possibility of maximum draught at the wharfs earned Gdansk a label of a port 'for any ship'. The gap in coal throughput was filled in 2011 by handling aggregate carriers. Gdansk port responded to the great demand from the road building and house building industries in Poland. A total of over 3.6 million tonnes of construction materials translated into the throughput growth of 244% in Gdansk compared to 2010.
All the world of navigation heard about Gdansk last year. Owing to Deepwater Container Terminal built in the deepwater section of the port, the largest container ships started calling here. DCT development dynamics astonishes even the most ardent sceptics. Nowadays, 'the child prodigy' of Gdansk port handles half of the sea container turnover of Poland, and its managers, assessing the capacity of Baltic terminals, forecast that only St. Petersburg can score higher this year. In 2011 Gdansk handled 6.2 million tonnes of containerised cargo. The launch of a direct service from the Far East resulted in a 113% increase in the port's container turnover in 2010. Last year (685 thou TEU) meant a further increase, of 34%, in container handling. The importance of Gdansk, as a Baltic container hub, cannot be questioned, bearing in mind the fact that 63% of the total of handled containers were brought to DCT by ocean-going ships. A reliable assessment of the terminal's potential made other ship-operators put their hopes there. Maersk vessels, which have been calling at Gdansk for two years within the framework of AE10 service, are soon to be joined by G6 group container ships carrying Asian merchandise.
Gdansk port handles over PLN 100 billion worth of merchandise per year. The importance of Gdansk for the Polish and European trade exchange is further stressed by the fact that its 2011 review shows a perfect balance of the port's import and export throughput. A natural tendency for the cargo (from the port's hinterland and foreland) to be handled by the port helps ship-operators make better use of their shipping potential. Owing to that tendency, Gdansk has 11 regular services connecting the port with 15 countries: 7 container services (including an ocean-going one), 3 general cargo services for Ro-Ro and passenger traffic, cars and conventional general cargo as well as a bulk cargo service. Regular shipping connections are operated, apart from Maersk Line, by: Euro Marine Logistics NV, Mibau, Polish Baltic Shipping, Seaway Logistics, Team Lines, Team Lines / CMA CGM and Unifeeder.
Despite the noticeable consequences of the crisis and politics-related alterations of trade shipping directions, the sustained high level of throughput is coupled with good financial results of PGA SA. The nearly 20 million profit on operating activity must be deemed satisfying, taking into account a very high cost of maintenance and modernisation of the old port's infrastructure. These resources, however, are too limited for the Port Authority to be able to plan strategic investments, requiring the erection of very expensive hydro-technical structures, independently. Thus it is characteristic for Gdansk port to realise them in co-operation with external capital.
Examples of such investments, initiated in 2011, are the following: the construction of Gdansk Bulk Terminal on Bytomskie Quay (an investment of Malteurop Poland), the construction of a fish handling and storage refrigeration plant in Duty Free Zone (an investment of North Atlantic Fish Producers Organisation allowing for the storage of fish at six levels on the area of over 7 thou. square metres), or a 1377-metre tunnel under the Martwa Wisla (Dead Vistula) river with the Sucharski Route, which is a project of the City of Gdansk co-financed from the European Union funds.
Last year's investment decisions, but also those made in the preceding years, are bearing fruit in the form of the port's throughput increase. They also offer Gdansk the prospect of maintaining the leading position on the Baltic. The shifting political and economic priorities in the world and in the Baltic Europe are hampering the possibility of forecasting the volume and directions of the trade exchange handled by sea ports. Nevertheless, in recent years PGA SA analysts were able to draw optimal directions for the port's investments. Owing to that, the Port of Gdansk is going to make the record level of throughput, re-established after 30 years, a long-standing one. There are expectations for a further rise in the port's handling of dry bulk cargo (aggregates, grain and biomass) as well as in a substantial dynamics of container throughput. The hydro-navigational qualities of the port and guaranteed all-year-round access for ships without the ice class allow for optimistic estimates of the volume of the Russian oil in transit. The port is planning a further expansion of deepwater throughput terminals, enabling the development of distribution functions in the Baltic Sea region. There is a number of concurrent investments conducive to both development and increase in the importance of those functions. They are: the construction of Pomeranian Logistic Centre, a base for storage of petroleum and petroleum derivatives of PERN, Dry Bulk Terminal of Northern Port, or the planned construction of a power plant on the port's premises. Acquiring a new owner of the privatised Port of Gdansk Cargo Logistics SA - a PGA SA dependent company - will also be significant for the increase of the port's handling capacity.