Categories: ESPO, EuropePublished On: 01.03.2021778 words4 min read

ESPO talks this month to Pino Musolino, the recently appointed President and CEO of the Port System Authority of the Central Northern Tyrrhenian Sea. In this interview, Pino Musolino tells ESPO how he got into the port sector, and gives his views, among others, on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on his port as well as on the global value and production chains, the relevance, possibilities, but also risks of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, and the way a port managing body can contribute to the decarbonisation of the transport and logistics sector.

You have just been appointed as President and CEO of the Port System Authority of the Central Northern Tyrrhenian Sea, which includes the ports of Rome (Civitavecchia, Fiumicino and Gaeta). Can you briefly present the Port System Authority of the Central Northern Tyrrhenian Sea? What are its main challenges?

The North Central Tyrrhenian Sea Port Authority comprises the ports of Civitavecchia, Fiumicino and Gaeta and is also known as the Authority that governs the “Ports of Rome”. It was the first port network to be established in Italy in 2003, with the aim of coordinating and integrating the activities of the three seaports of the region, several years in advance of what has been established nation-wide with the legislative reform of 2016.

The main port is Civitavecchia, which is duly considered as the port of the capital.

It has recorded, for many years now, a consolidated primacy for cruises, and its national leadership in this field is undisputed. In that regard, the port is also ranking among the first in Europe and is permanently appearing in the top ten ports of the world. Civitavecchia is also one of the major national hubs for Ro-Ro traffic of the Motorways of the Sea.

On the cargo side, the main trades are related to agri-food, particularly fresh and perishable goods, as well as automotive and coils, being the port of call of the industrial steel cluster of Terni. At the moment, the port also has a container terminal that handles about 100,000 TEUs a year, a figure that definitely needs to be upgraded in the years to come.

To date, the port of Fiumicino is focused on liquid bulk, in particular aviation fuels for Rome’s nearby airports. A significant development is planned and partly already funded for the incoming years, with the construction of Ro-Ro and cruise berths, a harbour for trawlers (as the largest fishing fleet of the region is hosted there) and specific sites to host industrial activities, particularly related to ship-building and ship-refitting yards.

The port of Gaeta has seen a recent enlargement of its warehousing and service areas, while the main quay has been reinforced, updated and expanded. This quay, although still relatively small, will also be able to accommodate some small to mid-size cruise ships of the latest generation, favouring tourism throughout the Gulf and South Pontine area.

The main challenge is to effectively become – in practice – the Port of Rome, by consolidating the primacy for cruises and making them a driver for the development of the economy not only of the port system, but of the entire Lazio Region, and focusing on the further growth of the Motorways of the Sea, increasing the connections not only with the islands and with other European countries such as Spain, but above all with North Africa. The African continent represents the fastest growing market of the next decades and will certainly be the most interesting for us, given our geographical position.

As far as containers are concerned, the real challenge for the port, and more generally for the regional industrial complex, is not to plan and build ever larger infrastructures, but to effectively become the real logistics platform of the Lazio region, where the port of Civitavecchia becomes not only a logistics hub, but also a place where integrated logistics and semi-manufacturing activities can be established and provided, possibly in duty-free areas or in structures where some forms of customs facilitations are provided, of course within the framework conceded by the EU regulations.

It may be surprising but the largest majority of the containers generated by the hinterland industries and destined for export, which are estimated at roughly 500k TEUs per annum, are still bound to other ports and not to Civitavecchia.

You are not a newcomer in the port sector. Before joining the Port System Authority of the Central Northern Tyrrhenian Sea, you were Chairman and CEO of the North Adriatic Sea Ports Authority, which covers the port of Venice. How did you get into maritime transport? How did your career path led to this position? . . . . 

. . . . continue reading the interview on the ESPO website here