A united front

Established in Copenhagen in October 1991, the Baltic Ports Organization’s (BPO) mission is to strengthen the global competitiveness of maritime transport and the port industry within the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) by contributing to its economic, social and environmental developments. Keen to facilitate co-operation among the ports, BPO also monitors and improves the possibilities for shipping in the region while supporting its members and working pro-actively with relevant partners. Over the years the organisation has developed a strong group of members, including 45 of the most significant ports in the nine countries that surround the Baltic Sea; these include Gdansk, Gothenburg, Ventspils, Trellborg, Ronne, Klaipeda, Riga, Turku, Helsinki, Stockholm, Naantali and Ystad. In addition, BPO has seven friendship members: Adelte Ports and Maritime, Autostore, Centre for Maritime Studies (CMS), Hamburg Port Authority, Konecranes and Port of Hamburg Marketing.

Registered in Estonia and headquartered in the Port of Tallinn, BPO operates in accordance to the Estonian law on non-profit associations and is well recognised within the BSR, EU bodies and other European regions. Working in these areas at a governmental level, BPO encourages trade from other European countries and represents the interests of the Baltic Sea ports towards EU institutions. Moreover, the organisation contributes to maintaining a clean environment within the Baltic Sea and promotes environmental management in member ports; to further enhance its role in environmental sustainability, BPO is actively involved in international discussions, notably via the BPO Environmental Working Group.

Aware that networking leads to the sharing and gaining of valuable information, BPO organises dedicated conferences, seminars and study visits to offer opportunities to handle questions in the area of port operation and management as well as the environmental impact of activities in ports. Alongside these duties, BPO is dedicated to finding a stronger understanding of the transport sector in the BSR through research, science and training.

One example of this would be BPO’s study on the past TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Networks) programme, which lasted from 2007-2013 and involved 32 Motorways of the Seas (MoS) projects; 20 of which involved Baltic countries, with 13 of those 20 projects involving Baltic countries only and the remaining seven involving joint action with other EU countries. The 20 projects cost a total of 1,160.95 million euros, which takes up a whopping 87 per cent of the complete cost of all MoS projects under the TEN-T programme. The majority of the Baltic MoS projects, a total of 14, address wider benefit issues such as environmental challenges; only six of the projects involved maritime link projects, such as port-to-port, within the BSR.

With the figures clearly showing that the previous TEN-T programme recognised the Baltic Sea as a maritime highway, BPO aims to initiate multiport projects for the new framework, lasting from 2014 to 2020, based on interest expressed by ports in the region. At the time of releasing the study, BPO had already identified opportunities with regards to projects involving environmental challenges, an area the organisation is strongly focusing on following the first implication of sulphur limits that came into effect in January 2015.

Since then, five ports in Sweden and Finland have decided to join forces to collaborate on port infrastructure development and environmental services, which will result in enhanced port infrastructure and a reduction in shipping’s impact on the environment. The four Finnish TEN-T core ports, Turku, Helsinki, Naantali and Haminakotka, alongside the ports of Stockholm, are to invest 200 million euros in the project and submitted applications for EU funding within the 2014 EU Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Transport Calls for Proposals in February 2015. The partners will submit two MoS applications with the hope of gaining support and cofinance from the EU commission.

On top of this, Helsinki and Tallinn port authorities, in collaboration with the Tallink Grupp, have submitted applications for funding from the EU CEF to further develop the TWINPORT project, which it co-financed in the previous TEN-T scheme. The current application will have the same goals as its predecessor, to develop the Hel-Tal port infrastructure and thus provide an increase in pax and cargo handling capacity. Altogether the two ports are investing 100 million euros in the major project, which coincides with Tallink Grupp’s contract with Meyer Turku Oy shipyard to construct an LNG powered fast ferry for the Tallinn-Helsinki route shuttle operations. The dual fuel vessel will be approximately 212 metres in length and a passenger capacity of 2800, as well as a gross tonnage of 49,000 and service speed of 27 knots; it will cost around 230 million euros to build and will drastically boost energy efficiency.

As the Baltic shipping industry faces challenging times with regards to stringent environmental regulations, a drop in oil price and economic sanctions against Russia, BPO will continue to provide its members with support and valuable information; a service that is certain to contribute to stronger trading relationships, and positive economic, social and environmental developments within the maritime transport and port industry within the Baltic Sea Region.

Regional ports organisation
Aims to monitor and improve shipping opportunities in the Baltic Sea
Inspires and supports its members