A position of strength

The Gibraltar Port Authority was established in 2005. Its strategy is to build on Gibraltar’s unique geographical position, and provide a vital link between all shipping stakeholders in order to deliver the best possible service to visiting ships, in a safe and efficient operating environment. As part of delivering this core function, it manages safety of navigation, as well as regulating the various activities that are carried out in its waters. Notable among these is the regulation of the bunkering industry, for which the Port attracts international recognition for best practice. The vision for the future builds on this success, and extends this level of partnership and transparency to all sectors of the industry at the port.

The Port has managed to develop a strong position after what proved to be a positive 2015. The Gibraltar Port Authority (GPA) has seen increases across the board, which is something that Commodore Bob Sanguinetti outlined: “In the year 2015 we have seen growth in almost all sectors of port activity. This comes against the backdrop of increased regional competition, and in the wake of a number of years that have seen a slight reduction in activity following the economic crisis of the last decade. We have seen great activity ranging from the total tonnage that has come into Gibraltar, and the number of vessels that have used the port, both for bunkers and in general.” Continuing on from this Bob gave further details about some of the increases that have been seen: “The number of cruise ships is up by 13 per cent and the number of super yachts is up by over 50 per cent on the previous year – the growth across most sectors has been really pleasing.”

The GPA has managed to achieve this growth by taking a multifaceted approach, and Bob shed some light on the kind of avenues that have been explored: “We introduced a reinvigorated marketing campaign which focused on one-to-one engagement with ship owners and operators. We have also increased our attendance at conferences and exhibitions. Operationally, by working closely with the shipping agents, bunker suppliers and other port operators, we have become more efficient in the busy bay, improving turnaround times, and reducing ship-waiting times to a minimum. More widely, we are also considering plans to further increase land based storage of marine fuels, which would increase our capacity and our resilience.”

In June 2016, at an exhibition in Greece the Gibraltar Port Authority co-hosted a stand with bunker suppliers and other port operators. This style of marketing is something it has pursued with great success, highlighting the extremely close working relationships across the Gibraltar port community. The GPA is also delighted to be hosting this year’s annual IBIA (International Bunker Industry Association) convention in Gibraltar in November 2016 – a clear indication of the port’s reputation and standing on the global stage. The convention will be an opportunity to engage with global shipping partners, which will help ensure that the port further grows its popularity and reputation, particularly as the premier bunker port in the Mediterranean and as a maritime centre of excellence. The importance of building these personal and professional connections is something Bob values extremely highly: “We value personal relationships, those that want to use Gibraltar can put a name to a face rather than just a business  card. They can communicate with us directly or indirectly, but either way it better allows us to understand their needs and to then tailor our services for them. We want to work closely with the local port community and international shipping community to provide the best possible service.”

Continuing on from a very strong year, the GPA has many more plans, which include further expansion for on-land facilities that will increase storage capacity. The improvements to the port are something Bob highlighted: “We have improved the vessel management system, which has helped provide a more efficient working environment without having to compromise on safety of navigation which is and will always be a fundamental objective. We are also relocating the port office to provide it with a great vantage point over the Strait of Gibraltar and the bay, to help oversee the busiest areas.” There is also a continued commitment to expanding the premium bunkering service provided at this port, which Bob gave an example of: “We are currently improving the infrastructure for bunkering alongside existing jetties for smaller vessels, cruise ships, and super yachts. We have also increased the occupancy of the eastern anchorage, by introducing a cheaper tariff to encourage vessels to stay for longer periods and carry out crew changes, light maintenance, surveys and provisioning. This has led to a pleasing increase in the number of ships taking advantage of this great facility.”

Gibraltar for centuries has been one of the most fought over places in Europe, due to its strategic location at the entrance of the Mediterranean. The Gibraltar Port Authority has been able to use this lucrative position for economic purposes, appealing to private yacht owners, as well as to large shipping companies. The port knows its strengths and has made clear efforts to accentuate them, along with the provision of a variety of services to all types of vessel. Gibraltar Port Authority is carving out a well-respected position in what is a competitive industry. With all the improvements, and increase in popularity, combined with its advantageous geographical location, it seems perfectly positioned for further growth and success.

Gibraltar Port Authority

Increase in business
Improvements to the port
Involvement in international conferences