A hub of success

Since last being featured in Shipping & Marine back in October 2013, the inter-municipal Port of Grenland has taken major collaborative steps to increase its cargo volumes and develop the local industry. Equipped to handle most types of cargo, including dry bulk, liquefied gas, petroleum products, petrochemicals, cement and process industry products, the port is currently experiencing a record year, exceeding 11 million tonnes of handled cargo. In addition, it has continued its dedicated focus on local collaboration to help generate and boost activity for both new and established local businesses.

“Firstly, following an investment of more than 100 million NOK, we have completed our ferry terminal in Langesund,” explains Port Director, Finn Flogstad. “This means that for the first time, in 2015, we have a daily ship call for passenger ferries. Operated by a company called Fjordline, the route goes from Langesund to Hirtshals in Denmark, and to Stavanger and Bergen.”

Over the past year, Port of Grenland has seen a total cargo increase of approximately ten per cent. In closer Grenlanddetail, this is down to a 25 per cent increase in general cargo, 20 per cent in containerised cargo, 1.3 per cent in dry bulk and 10 per cent in wet bulk. Ship calls at the port have also increased by nine per cent, with an increase in passenger and transport volumes also noted. Overall increases in volume have been offset slightly by a 50 per cent decrease in personal vehicle cargo and a six per cent fall in lorried cargo.

“Another focus for us at the moment is working with the local communities to develop a new business area,” says Finn. “The region is dominated by the process and petrochemical industries, so it is an area that generates a lot of export cargo. This means that the industry is always on the look-out for new opportunities and also new businesses and industries to share energy costs and synergies with.” The plan for Port of Grenland, collaborating with the local Bamble municipality, is to establish an area of ten square kilometres of land for industrial use called Frier Vest. In addition, the already established Herøya Industrial Park is up for sale, and Finn is hopeful that a new buyer will look to further develop the site to attract more businesses.

“We are a port that is very dedicated to the industry around us,” highlights Finn. “Industry here has a very high level of competence; we have land available, good utilities, low pollution levels and a much improving infrastructure.” It is in its infrastructure that the region around Port of Grenland is making significant strides, and the port is playing a key role in facilitating this. Finn continues: “There is a political ambition to transfer cargo from the road to rail and sea, and we are working tirelessly to achieve this goal,” he says. “Between 2016 and 2017 the Norwegian Coastal Administration will be constructing a new port entrance to reduce the risk of ship collision as demand and capacity increase in the area. In September, a brand new rail connection was introduced from Brevik to Bergen, which we implemented with Norway’s main cargo rail operator, CargoNet, and DFDS. This is a weekly connection and we will soon be starting one to Trondheim as well.”

Infrastructure improvements continue beyond just freight applications, as the county is currently investing heavily into both road and rail upgrades to reduce the distance between the port and its main consumer areas, in terms of both time and cost. “There is an ongoing project to develop the main roads from Oslo to Stavanger, which pass through this area,” explains Finn. “This means that road capacity is increased and time spent on it is reduced. There is also an eight billion NOK investment being pumped into rail improvements within our county until 2018.”

Other comparative advantages for the port’s collaborative efforts to attract new industries are the wealth of opportunities present in the region. Finn points to the occurrence of a number of raw materials, such as rare earth elements and thorium, and he believes that the Norwegian timber industry may be approaching a new era of growth. With global companies, such as fertiliser manufacturer Yara and solar panel component producer Elkem Solar, all established and investing in the area, the port and region are enjoying a large amount of export activity. However, this does also bring its challenges. Finn explains: “We have to try to balance the flow when it comes to unitised cargo as there is a lack of 20ft containers. Demand r the containers is far exceeding the supply and we have to bring in empty containers to cope. Therefore, we want to look into attracting more import activity to balance this out, it will also make the operational running of the port more efficient.”

Port of Grenland’s approach to future growth and success is to work collaboratively with its neighbouring areas to encourage economic growth and to present opportunities to potential new businesses. Further demonstrating Finn’s approach to working relationships, the port is soon to hold discussions on its futurestrategic plans and investments, and he is confident that these will be fruitful. He is also keen to promote the area as a tourist destination in order to increase the port’s cruise calls, of which it has only had one this year. “We are very optimistic when it comes to this region’s activity,” Finn concludes. “We are in good shape with our infrastructure improvements, we are creating more employment opportunities and we are looking to work closely with other ports to improve market and cost positions in such a way that more cargo can be transported by sea.”

Port of Grenland

The port has seen a ten per cent increase in cargo during 2014

Looking to develop a new industrial zone

Infrastructure developments make the area more attractive