Categories: ESPO, EuropePublished On: 08.05.20182474 words12.5 min read

Since 2016, Łukasz Greinke has been serving as the new President of the Board and Managing Director of the Port of Gdańsk. After two years in this position, we thought it was time for a conversation! In this Port pro of the month, Łukasz Greinke will tell you more about his long term vision for the port, the role of EU funding in developing infrastructure projects, the impact of trade disruptions and the role that digitalisation plays in his port.

Łukasz Greinke

In 2016 you were appointed as President of the Board and Managing Director of the Port of Gdańsk. Can you briefly tell us more about the Port of Gdańsk? What are its main characteristics and challenges? What is your long term vision for the Port of Gdańsk?

Two years in such a position is not much, especially if we take into account the time to organise, design and implement individual projects. From the start, however, I wanted to deal with a number of issues that have been neglected for years.

The Port of Gdańsk from year to year competes more and more intensely with the biggest deep-sea ports of Western Europe. In the future, thanks to far-reaching modernisation plans, it is likely to become the largest and the most important port in the Baltic Sea. It now ranks among the leaders in terms of cargo handling in the region − in terms of loaded and unloaded containers we are outstripped only by St. Petersburg, while in general terms we take the 6th place in the Baltic Sea. Given the pace of growth and started investment, we have a chance to be the best Baltic port.

Our ultimate goal is to become the fifth generation port, making us a key universal logistics hub for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the global supply chains. The Port of Gdańsk is to be an important industrial centre with comprehensive service of intermodal transport, and a wholesale and distribution hub, becoming the port of first choice for companies in the countries of our region. The fifth generation means that production companies interested in obtaining goods from the Port, such as raw materials or components for production, will invest in the immediate vicinity of the Port.

The flagship investment of the Port of Gdańsk will be the Central Port. Ultimately, on an area of approx. 500 hectares, several terminals with different functions including mass, general cargo, passenger or ro-ro cargo terminals, are to be created. This is the biggest investment programme in the history of the Port of Gdańsk. We have set very ambitious development plans to be reached by 2027, including the adaptation of port infrastructure to changing market conditions. We need to anticipate market demand due to its high dynamics.

The Port of Gdańsk is a core port of the Baltic-Adriatic corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). Has the Port of Gdańsk already been awarded any projects? Can you explain why a financing mechanism such as the Connecting Europe Facility is important for your port? 

Being a core port of the Baltic-Adriatic corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) entails the need to create favourable transport conditions for all users of the corridor. So the so-called bottlenecks that affect the quality and speed of transport will be eliminated. The A1 motorway, connecting us not so much with the Adriatic Sea but with Southern European countries, will streamline traffic and form an alternative to Scandinavian and German ports.

We are entering the phase of implementation of the largest investment programme in the history of the Port. The changes will cover the Inner and the Outer Port. In the Inner Port, thanks to the EU funds, we will deepen the waterway and rebuild almost five kilometres of quays. Thanks to this, the port channel from the entrance of the Port to  the Shipyard will eventually have a depth of 12 metres − by the quays, average depth will reach 11.2 m. The Kaszubski channel will be deepened to 10.8 m. We will rebuild and modernise the Oliwskie Quay, the Dworzec Drzewny Quay and the Obrońców Poczty Polskiej Quay. We will modernise the Vistula Quay and Krajowa Spółka Cukrowa will build the first terminal in Poland with a sugar silo, packing house and warehouse. In the Outer Port the new Północne Quay will be built, for which we have also obtained EU funds. We are launching the construction of car parks − we are planning to build four car parks for approx. 550 cars in total.

Believe me, the Port of Gdańsk is turning into a construction site. Currently, the main source of funding for the largest investment is the EU’s CEF instrument (Connecting Europe Facility), which will finance 85% of the investment. For the construction of the Północne Quay we also managed to gain 20 million euros through the competition CEF Blending. Other investments will be financed from our own funds. Let us not forget that, in accordance with the Act on ports and harbors, we need to invest the money that we earn into infrastructure. The Północne Quay will be realised for 20% by a commercial loan. We are modernising, among others, the entire Wiślane Quay on our own. All this not to stay behind the Western ports. From year to year, month to month, we note further record-breaking cargo handling. In 2017, we exceeded the magic number of 40 million tonnes of transshipped goods and are still seeing an upward trend. To meet the needs of the market and to fight for a leading position in the Baltic Sea, we need to invest on a large scale. Our goal is the threshold of 100 million tonnes per year.

In the last years, the Port of Gdańsk has experienced a strong growth in its container throughput. What have been the main drivers of this growth? How do you see this business evolving in the coming years?

The main driver of growth of the Port of Gdańsk is our location − we are a transport hub and the only port in the Baltic Sea with a direct transoceanic container line to China. The DCT Gdańsk terminal can handle the largest ships entering the Baltic Sea. Its partners are two of the three existing shipowner alliances − 2M and Ocean Alliance, whose transoceanic container ships call at Gdansk twice a week. In total, in 2017 the DCT Gdańsk sea terminal transshipped 1.593 million TEU, more than 22 percent more than a year earlier. It was one of the highest results in the world in terms of dynamics.

Standardisation and containerisation are the global trends and we see our future here. Container ships will be bigger, so we need investments going into the sea, such as the Central Port. Added to this is the idea of the New Silk Road, which we are very interested in, the development of intermodal transport and extensive cooperation with the Asian markets.

Free trade seems to be increasingly under pressure these days as on a global level more and more states are applying protectionist policies and even enter into trade wars with each other. Is the Port of Gdańsk monitoring these developments? Do you think ports should be concerned about this?

Ports are interdisciplinary enterprises. We must be up-to-date with everything happening in the world. We work with business representatives from virtually every continent because the geopolitical situation around the world can have an impact on our work. The Port of Gdańsk is a strategic company for the Polish economy, it must be stable, and therefore we observe and analyse all the factors that could disturb this stability.

The Port of Gdańsk has a Duty-Free Zone. Can you briefly explain us how this Duty-Free Zone is of benefit to the businesses located in the port?

Duty-free zones in ports will always be attractive to contractors due to the favorable conditions they offer. The importer pays customs duties and taxes only at the exit of the duty-free zone and it is the most attractive element of locating their business in this area. We offer favourable conditions for storage of goods in anticipation of further handling of cargo.

The Duty-Free Zone (WOC) in the Port of Gdańsk is currently occupied by companies such as Adampol (transport of commercial vehicles), Cargofruit (citrus fruits, bananas and other fruits) and PAOP (refrigerated fish and seafood). Due to the fact that this zone has enjoyed great success, it is gradually expanding. We are considering extending it to cover the area occupied by PERN and the Oliwskie Quay.

The Commission has declared 2018 as the Year of Multimodality. Do you believe it is important to put an emphasis on multimodal transport? What needs to be done to make multimodal transport more attractive? 

Multimodal transport is of paramount importance for the Port of Gdańsk. We understand that our partners value time and money. That’s why we are modernising the road and railway network or the seaway, and are the advocates of the construction of more sections of motorways and expressways. The more possibilities of delivery of goods to and from the Port, the more attractive we are.

Due to its ideal location, Gdańsk can use inland transport. Currently we are developing a feasibility study for the recanalisation of the Vistula River between Gdańsk and Belarus. The study will show how to modernise the Vistula River to make it not only navigable, but most of all safe. Today, we spend millions of zlotys on the removal of flood damage. Unobstructed rivers will not only help us solve this problem, they will also contribute to the development of agriculture and tourism, not to mention the economy. Obtaining class IV navigability at the Vistula River would be a great step in the development of transport. Of course we will not be the only beneficiary of this project, but one of many. Let us not forget that the lower Vistula has a huge energy potential. Realising the navigation potential of this river and increasing its role in the chain of intermodal transport of the E40 international waterway will be groundbreaking, and will undoubtedly have a big impact on the development of, among others, the Port of Gdańsk or Gdynia.

Already for a few years, political tensions between the European Union and Russia have been rising. In this respect, the Baltic Sea is increasingly becoming a geopolitical hotspot. Is this a situation you are closely monitoring? Have the rising tensions between the EU and Russia had any sort of impact on the Port of Gdańsk?  

We have an attentive eye on everything that is happening in the international arena because a countless number of factors can influence the situation in the Port. The tension between the European Union and Russia and the resulting sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 were not without significance for us. For instance, there was a decline in containers handled by us.

Today, we can say that we have a calm attitude to all events taking place around our business. Of course, we continue to monitor the situation and diversify markets, so as not to lead to a similar situation in the future. We are discovering new markets and act dynamically in order to establish new business contacts.

Port of Gdańsk

What are the main focal points of your port’s environmental policy?

The environmental policy of the Port of Gdańsk has evolved from a focus on individual issues to a more integrated approach under the framework of sustainable development. The most closely monitored issues at the Port of Gdańsk include air quality, noise monitoring, as well as water quality and waste management.

The Port of Gdańsk has recently implemented detector systems for the measurement of noise, dust and odour emissions in critical points of the port. These systems consist of two basic components: a measurement layer equipped with a set of appropriate sensors allowing to continuously monitor the levels of noise and dust (PM10, PM2.5), as well as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, H2S, PH3, ammonia, and a communication layer equipped with wireless communication components allowing to provide coverage of the port area.

At the same time, the Port of Gdańsk has just started the risk assessment study based on IMO guidelines G7 in order to ensure a low risk of transfer of invasive species when it comes to short-sea shipping (water quality).

At the beginning of 2019, the Port of Gdańsk will also provide fixed port reception facilities for passenger ships (waste management).

During the last years, ESPO has been putting a lot of efforts in digitalising data on port performance within the PORTOPIA project (an FP7 project that aims to measure port performance). How is the Port of Gdańsk coping with the challenges of digitalisation?

The Port of Gdańsk is enthusiastic about digitalisation, which has significantly progressed over the last decades, and has entered a next level of utilisation in maritime transport. It is one of the factors determining the competitiveness of ports, while giving scope for further development as well as the development of navigation itself.

Globalisation requires us to remain competitive, which is not possible in the long run without the introduction of innovative information-sharing tools, all this in order to build an efficient and safe supply chain. The supply chain of the Port of Gdańsk includes Chinese ports such as Chongqing, Dalian, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Xiamen, Hong Kong and European ports such as Antwerp, Le Havre, Hamburg, Rotterdam and Felixstowe.

In our port we have already introduced innovative solutions in the IT field to support the operation of our terminals (NAVIS and e.Brama systems). With these solutions, drivers can notify the arrival of trucks online, they know how many vehicles are waiting to enter the terminal, there also is a calendar of trains and the ability to check the status of a specific container.

The Port of Gdańsk offers its counterparties favourable customs and tax conditions. We strive to save as much time as possible while maximising benefits. The so-called Single Window control allows for the free flow of information between Chinese and Polish customs services, and for clearance of containers before they reach the port (prior to landing from the ship). We introduced simplified forms, as well as reduced restrictions, and introduced the possibility to defer the VAT on goods transported to the port area to 90 days, all through a fully digitalised process.

A tool that is still to be implemented in the Port of Gdańsk is unquestionably the Port Community System (PCS). It is a modern, neutral and secure platform, which is not technologically dominated by other systems but compatible with them. The PCS provides for an appropriate, common to all format of information, which flows smoothly to selected users.

Source: ESPO, 2 May 2018