Goal for 2016: Stimulate Growth
Interview with Inke Onnen-Lübben, Managing Director of Seaports of Niedersachsen GmbH
Ms Onnen-Lübben, which new projects and events are on the agenda for the Lower Saxon seaports in 2016?
For 2016, we have again developed a broad programme of events and trade fairs, which we will attend in order to represent our nine Lower Saxon seaports with their extensive range of services. In March, we exhibited at the Automotive Logistics Europe Conference in Bonn for the first time. Handling new vehicles as well as logistics and technical services for automobile manufacturers are part of the Lower Saxon seaports’ key competences. We see great chances for further growth in the automobile sector in the coming years. The direct contact to the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers), the suppliers and forwarders in the industry will stimulate this further growth.
The presence at trade fairs enables us to cater to important national markets in South America, China and the US. Handling bulk and project cargo is also of very high significance for our seaports – for example wind energy components. In order to further the networking with customers in this industry, Seaports is once again presenting at the Breakbulk Europe trade fair in Antwerp, as well as the WindEnergy in Hamburg. At both fairs, we aim to increase the size of our presence in comparison to the previous years. After all, we are playing a key role in these cargo segments: as hubs for steel, forestry products and other general cargo and also especially for the wind industry. Our seaports on the rivers Ems, Jade, Weser and Elbe have a lot of expertise in the onshore and offshore segments. Especially Cuxhaven recently made headlines with regards to the Siemens settlement as well as the port’s involvement in several offshore projects. So there are good reasons why Cuxhaven is called the “German Offshore Industry Center”.
In addition, we want to focus more strongly on the cargo origin and destinations in the hinterland of our seaports. Seaports of Niedersachsen and the Container Terminal Wilhelmshavener JadeWeserPort-Marketing Gesellschaft will develop a series of presentations and network events, in which we want to show companies within specific target regions how they can profit from the services of our Lower Saxon seaports.
A recently published press release by the ZDS (Zentralverband der deutschen Seehafenbetriebe) highlighted the figures of the medium-term forecast for the freight and passenger traffic. It saw an increase of 2.4 % for the German seaborne traffic in 2016. How are Seaports preparing for this development?
Fortunately, we have already recorded excellent traffic volumes for 2015 in our Lower Saxon seaports. With almost 52 million tons in seaborne freight traffic alone, the freight volume has risen by 12 % in comparison to the previous year. We recorded increases in the high value-adding general cargo sector as well as the dry bulk sector, which is especially important for the industry’s supply with raw materials. We have seen exceptionally great growth rates for new vehicles and containers. In this respect, our port operators have already shown that they can handle increasing cargo volumes well. If we are indeed to experience further increases for this year, we are welcoming them. However, reliable prognoses are difficult. Over all, we are therefore still proceeding on the assumption that the freight handling at our seaports will remain stable as it pertains to all product groups.
In the past years, many private Lower Saxon port businesses have successfully streamlined their internal processes and sustainably invested in their superstructures, thus raising their handling efficiency. And more investments are planned for the future. Through its port infrastructure company NPorts, the state of Lower Saxony has pushed the demand-based expansion of the seaports and is currently implementing several substantial construction projects. All this enables us as the port marketing organisation to further recruit more business for our Lower Saxon seaports.
Two expansion projects have already started at the Port of Cuxhaven – the construction of the Siemens production facility including a berth and the long-awaited berth no. 4. Where do you see new goals and chances for Cuxhaven?
Cuxhaven will establish itself as the German Offshore Industry Center. We are counting on the fact that the Siemens settlement, which we welcome whole-heartedly to Cuxhaven, will accrue further upstream and downstream production and service companies for the location. The cargo volumes in the project and offshore cargo sectors should be equally spurred by this. The completion of the new multipurpose berth no. 4 will also have a positive effect on the automobile handling as well as the handling of rolling cargo.
Cuxhaven already is a highly important short sea hub. Because of its excellent geographical location and the deep waters, the location could in future also establish itself further as a port of call for international deep sea traffic in the RoRo sector.