Shoring up

The Port of Pori, situated on the west coast of Finland, has a long history. It is this year celebrating its 230th anniversary as an established naval port, having remained one of the country’s most important harbours throughout its history. When first founded it was a key import and export location, serving the needs of the entire country, and today remains its fifth biggest by having an annual turnover of approximately six million tonnes of cargo. Furthermore, its proximity to, and transport networks with, Russia have made it an important connection to the east.

Port director Jaakko Nirhamo highlights other key characteristics of the port and how they are currently being developed: “It is in an ideal location, 20 kilometres from the centre of Pori itself so that there is not much residential housing around the port. This means there is a lot of free space and land to use, and currently we have 200 hectares ready for development into industrial and logistical sites. Companies are welcomed to set themselves up here, using our excellent infrastructure to establish their own logistical hubs or warehouses.”

The Port of Pori is actually made up of two separate harbours named Mäntyluoto and Takholuoto, each specialising in different cargo types. Mäntyluoto focuses on general, high or heavy dry bulk cargo with ten purpose-built cranes, and along its two kilometres of quays is able to process up to 25 containers an hour. It also possesses more than 100,000 square metres of warehousing. Takholuoto, on the other hand, is a mainly bulk site with just 19,500 square metres of warehousing. However, as a deepwater harbour it is able to accept cape size vessels as well as oil and chemical tankers, making it an important element of the port.

As Jaakko explains however, Mäntyluoto is soon to gain this capability: “We have great naval conditions. Beyond our jetty there are no islands obstructing the way and the water is very deep, meaning the route is safely and efficiently navigable. Takhkoluoto has a 15.3 metre draft, meaning any vessel entering the Baltic Sea can already dock there. However we are currently dredging the fairways at Mäntyluoto to deepen it from ten metres to 12 metres. With vessels growing larger and larger these days, therefore needing more water beneath them, this upgrade is absolutely essential for the future of the port.”

The development of the Mäntyluoto fairway is expected to be complete later this year. With this site already boasting Masa, which at 200 tonnes lifting capacity is Finland’s strongest harbour crane, the Port of Pori is set to benefit hugely from this upgrade. The port administration is also in negotiations for the purchase of a second strong crane, thereby enabling it to provide more rapid loading and offloading services. Meanwhile, the 200-hectare development will be continually ongoing and based on demand.

Its new developments will reinforce the Port of Pori’s position as a leading point of contact for Finland on the global market, particularly within the energy, chemical and metals industry that make up the bulk of its business. “On the energy side we can count all of Finland’s major figures such as Fortum, PVO and TVO amongst the users of the Port, as well as metal companies including Boliden, Norilisk Nickel and Metso; we also handle small amounts of sawn timber.”

In 2007 and 2008, at the height of pre-recession market, the port was handling almost six million tonnes of cargo; when the financial crisis came in 2009, it continued to increase cargo throughput volume by 1.8 per cent. The Port was finally impacted in 2010, but with only an eight per cent drop in traffic it could never be considered disastrous. Furthermore, during the last eight months the market has been bouncing back in a big way. Between January and April 2011 there was a 34 per cent growth in cargo volume. This sets a progressively positive standard for the future that, when combined with the port’s new developments, means a bright future.

Jaakko concludes on a similarly committed note: “Over the next few years the government is bringing in new regulations soon that will privatise the entire Finnish ports network, so we have to start focusing on this as our next major project. Most importantly, however, we want to maintain our position as one of Finland’s most important ports and even gain a larger share of the country’s market.”

Undergoing project to deepen fairways
Long and rich history
Ideally located harbours