ESPO: Port pro of the month: Panayiotis Agathocleous (CY)

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ESPO: Port pro of the month: Panayiotis Agathocleous (CY)

This month, we are interviewing Mr. Panayiotis Agathocleous, Port Manager of the Port of Limassol (Cyprus). In what follows, Mr. Agathocleous explains us about the main characteristics and challenges of his port, how he got into maritime transport, the importance of transshipment to the port, the impact of geopolitics on the port, and many more interesting subjects!

Can you briefly present the Port of Limassol? What are its main characteristics and challenges?

The continuous process of changing international transport management in the last thirty years from a segmented modal approach towards a much more integrated transport concept, tailored to better meet the pressing needs of customers, the globalisation of the economy, the massive political changes and the deep financial crisis at the early years of the current decade that affected the port sector as well as the establishment of more market-oriented governments, has allowed port privatisation to be more vigorously pursued and resulted in an increasing pressure on our ports to adapt their role and function to this more demanding operational environment. These trends entailed the rethinking of port development strategies as well as the introduction of the necessary reforms in the legislative and managerial environment within which Cyprus ports have to operate nowadays and in the years to come.

Considering the fact that Cyprus is a small island country which depends heavily on its ports for its trade, acknowledging this is of high priority, as well as the development, and further improvement of the port infrastructures and the establishment of an efficient seaborne transport system. The Cyprus Ports Authority, through the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, examined more closely the Authority’s managerial role as well as the improvement of its role in the regional port industry. Thus, one of the first actions taken, as part of the ports’ long term strategy, was to provide opportunities to the private sector to participate more actively in the provision of port services. This in turn attracts more capital investments within our ports and improves port efficiency, safety and security. At the same time our ports and port services are adapting in order to be able to meet the existing and future requirements and needs of the market, including the search and exploitation activities of natural gas that are taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean basin.

As a result of the above actions and since February 2017, all port services at Limassol port are being provided by the private sector and the 3 Concessionaires that have been given a concession agreement under tender competition.

The 3 Concessionaires that are now providing port services at Limassol port are:

  • Eurogate Container Terminal Limassol, being responsible for the operation of the port’s container terminal;
  • DP World Limassol, being responsible for the handling of General Cargo and Passengers;
  • P&O Maritime Cyprus Ltd, being responsible for providing the Marine Services.

Through this commercialisation of the Limassol port services, Cyprus Ports Authority, from being the landlord and operator of the port, now has the role of landlord and regulator of the port services, acting at the same time as a collaborator and partner for the materialisation of the goals of the three Concessionaires and the port’s vision.

The commercialisation of Limassol port services is a project of strategic importance as it will not only improve the competitiveness of the port over the next decades, but also contribute to the further revival of the economy and increase of growth.

Nearly 3 years after the beginning of this ambitious project of the commercialization of the port services, I feel that this structural reform of the Limassol port and the transition to the new regime has shown positive results in financial as well as operational terms, with efficient and high quality services being offered to the port users and with safety, environmental and security standards at their highest levels. There are still lots of things that can be done to increase the ports productivity and efficiency, two important elements that can bring significant benefits to our country. To this end, we are working closely with the three Concessionaires, the Ministry of Transport and the port stakeholders.

With regard to the characteristics of the Limassol port, it is the main and largest commercial port of the island, serving both cargo and passengers. Its construction started back in 1971 and was concluded in 3 implementation phases in 1996, with some modifications on its infrastructure and superstructure taking place until today. The sea area of the port is around 1 sq. km while the land area is around 1,3 sq. km. The port infrastructure includes a total length of quays of 2.500m, closed and open storage areas, container stacking yards and reefer installations. The port superstructure includes 5 gantries cranes, 2 of which are new super post panamax cranes as well as mobile cranes and various types of cargo ground handling equipment. Regarding the provision of marine services, 3 tug boats and 2 pilot boats are available. The port basin depths vary from -11m to -16m. A new passenger terminal is now in operation, a landmark building of a total of 7.000 m², that covers all the requirements of relevant regulations regarding security and safety in handling passengers.

How did you get into maritime transport? How did your career path lead to this position?

Maritime transport and port industry are exciting and at the same time challenging fields for someone to work for, thus I consider myself lucky and at the same time excited to be part of these sectors. My academical background is related mainly to the business administration and management fields. I have university degrees in Business Administration, and an MBA and a Master in Port Management, all from British universities. . . .

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