Eurogate adds a gem of a terminal, with the opening of the Port of Wilhelmshaven's Jade Weser.
By Paul Richardson, AJOT
EUROGATE has emerged as one of Europe’s leading container terminal and logistics groups since its formation back in September 1999, when Hamburg’s, EUROKAI, a traditional and well-established name in Germany’s container shipping sector, and Bremerhaven’s, logistics company, BLG Logistics Group joined forces.
EUROGATE, together with the Contship Italia Group, operate a portfolio of container terminals through northern and southern Europe, as well as North Africa.
Fittingly, 13-years later almost to the day, EUROGATE has once again, underlined its name in the global market place, with a landmark event which saw the official inauguration of Germany’s first deepwater container terminal, known as the Jade Weser Terminal at Wilhelmshaven take place.
Jade Weser is being constructed with the help of a financial investment totalling US$1.6bn, of which US$845m has been contributed by the states of Lower Saxony and Bremen.
The new terminal is a joint venture between EUROGATE and APM Terminals, and the EUROGATE investment in the new project comes out as US$455m.
But despite the original belief that the Wilhelmshaven blueprints were being drawn up with local port competition written all over them, this in fact, is far from the truth, as EUROGATE Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven, EUROGATE CTW), managing director, Mikkel Andersen recently pointed out.
“EUROGATE CTW has not been built with competitiveness in mind, and we do not have the capacity to be a medium or long term threat to Hamburg or Bremerhaven.
“At Wilhelmshaven, we are offering our customers a cost effective alternative on the German North Sea Coast, and with capabilities and capacities enabling us to handle vessels up to 18,000 teu, we believe that CTW comes at the right time.”
The new terminal will be constructed in a series of phases, and under the first part of the Phase 1 development, will initially have 1,000m of quayside equipped with eight super post-panamax gantry cranes and a back up on-dock equipment portfolio that includes, 36 diesel-electric straddle carriers from Terex.
The second part of the Phase 1 development project, slated for completion in September 2013, comprises an extension of the quayside by another 725m.
Right now, there is an approved annual capacity of 2.7m teu under the first phase development programme, although this figure is expected to increase to 3.5m teu with all dockside cranes installed.
One of the big plus points of Wilhelmshaven comes from its inland distribution potential through first class road networks and constantly improved rail works that feed cargo to and from the major industrial centres of Germany.
Unlike ports such as Hamburg and Bremerhaven, Wilhelmshaven has little or no inland waterway connections, but the shoreside inland plus points adequately make up for any possible downsides from the lack of river conduits.
Most recently, EUROGATE CTW welcomed its third seagoing service through the terminal complex. Importantly all three services are operated by Maersk, either directly or via subsidiary companies, including European feeder network, Seago Line.
But the status of EUROGATE CTW is a common user facility, and just because AP Moller-Maersk terminal operator, APM Terminals has a stake in the Wilhelmshaven terminal, does not mean Maersk can be the sole service provider through EUROGATE CTW.
Indeed, Maersk’s service restriction has a cut off of less than 50%, and thus the common user facility nomenclature kicks in even more prolifically.
It is no secret that in some cases, Bremerhaven is working up to full capacity at its container terminal facilities.
EUROGATE and Maersk Line have a 50:50 joint venture in place at the North Sea Terminal Bremerhaven (NTB), with Maersk as the dedicated service provider.
According to the latest statistics available from EUROGATE, 2011 saw throughput reach just over 5.9m teu.
One of the services calling weekly at NTB is Maersk’s Asia/Europe AE10 service, which presently deploys a mix of 13,000/15,000 teu.
Logically, should the NTB workload continue to increase, services such as the AE10 could be switched at some stage to EUROGATE CTW, where the facility is more than capable of handling such size tonnage and capacity.
EUROGATE’s presence in Hamburg centres on the EUROGATE Container Terminal, where container throughput in 2011 amounted to just over 2.2m teu.
In Hamburg, EUROGATE has major terminal expansion plans in place, with a quayside extension and back up land programme that will see the present annual handling capacity of 4.1m teu increased to 6m teu.
Right now, the total expansion programme is awaiting acceptance by the relevant authorities, but assuming the green light is given, work should be completed between 2017 and 2019.
Elsewhere, in North Europe, EUROGATE’s extensive portfolio also includes the MSC Gate terminal in Bremerhaven, which interestingly also involves a big name in the container shipping business – Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC).
MSC Gate, set up in 2004, MSC Gate is a joint venture between EUROGATE and MSC, and latest throughput statistics show the terminal as handling just over 1.2m teu in 2011.
One of the most important factors surrounding EUROGATE’s future development plans, is that the group is looking to a future that is beyond the doom and gloom that presently surrounds the Asia/North Europe trade.
While shipping lines continue to tread carefully over capacity deployment, there is a positive belief at EUROGATE that all downturns eventually lead to upturns.
EUROGATE CTW has been designed and constructed with a projected market demand and future generation container vessels in mind, and the while the idea of a vessel of 18,000 teu deployed on the Asia/North Europe trade may seem far from reality at the moment, what is now, is generally far from what will be in the near term future.