Harbouring success

The Port of Barcelona boasts around 100 regular shipping lines that connect it to over 200 ports across five continents. As such it has become the principle port of Spain when it comes to trade internationally, with a particular focus on specialised and high value cargo. As a result the Port of Barcelona has not only become instrumental for shipping lines across the world, from Europe and North Africa to East Asia and South America, but also in supporting the buoyant tourism industry. The Port has ensured that it remains at the forefront of shipping worldwide with numerous major investments. Through these developments it has achieved a range of impressive milestones, some of which president Sixte Cambra presented: “The Port provides 32,000 jobs and channels 73 per cent of Catalonia’s external maritime trade and 24 per cent of the national total. In 2015 it handled goods worth €61,000 million.”

There are a number of strengths of the Port of Barcelona, all of which play an essential role in making it the significant port it is today. First and foremost it has a diverse set of capabilities, and provides equally high levels of service as a commercial port, energy port, cruiser port, logistics port, and citizens’ port. Throughout all of its activity it continuously displays a firm commitment to contribute to the hinterland economically, and ensure that there is always an efficient management and a customer centric approach.

There have been numerous investments in the port, one of the most crucial ones in recent years has been over the period of 2000-2014, when the Port and private operators spent a total of around €4 billion. The huge investment has offered many benefits, some of which include enlargement of the Intermodal Logistics Platform (ZAL), construction of the new BEST terminal (managed by HPH), and enlargement of the APM Terminals Barcelona for container traffic. Also, improved rail terminals, which serves for 750-metre compositions in both UIC and Iberian gauge. It also included the new Grimaldi short sea shipping terminal, as well as increased capacity for liquid bulks on the Energy wharf, plus new spaces freed up to increase capacity for moving vehicles and steel products.

The impressive investments continue year-on-year, which demonstrates the huge ambition that the Port has and its ability to achieve this, and was once visible last year with an approximate spend of €70 million. These funds were largely used in order to provide an even more effective railway infrastructure, with work to construct a new dry bulk terminal (managed by ICL), as well as the enlargement of the Adossat wharf, in addition to the refurbishment it carried out for its fishing facilities. All of which was a further investment and improvement after the already extensive ones that had occurred over the course of the previous decade.

As a result of all of these investments the Port of Barcelona has strengthened a broad range of its facilities and capabilities, making an even more attractive port for customers across the world. Also, Cambra added: “The Port of Barcelona is now perfectly fit to compete with Northern European ports. It is integrated into the main industrial and logistics node of the Mediterranean and offers shorter routes to Europe for Asian and African markets. We have appropriate infrastructures, adapted to future needs, and a strong network of inland terminals. Barcelona is the third European port in terms of productivity, and the first in the Mediterranean, and it is highly committed to intermodality, sustainability and the environment.” With all of these qualities, the Port of Barcelona looks not just geographically well positioned, but also strategically well positioned to take full advantage of future opportunities.

The sustainable and environmental aspect of development is something that the Port of Barcelona is making strides within, and this has a number of facets to it. Firstly, it will involve an ambitious Clean Air Action Plan, which will reduce emissions that can be the result of port activities. In addition to this the Port is promoting liquefied natural gas (LNG), this offers a fuel for ships that makes huge reductions in emissions by up to 80 per cent, and prevents a number of harmful particles from being emitted. This fuel greatly assists shipping in becoming more sustainable, which is an increasingly pressing issue for those within the industry, and the Port of Barcelona demonstrates its forward thinking nature by adapting to these early on.

The Port’s vision for the future also includes the work it is doing to make ship-to-ship bunkering possible by the year 2018. The Port of Barcelona aims to have put in place an LNG supply infrastructure for ships by this year. In order to pursue this the Port is involved in some major schemes, which head of Environmental Department Jordi Vila elaborated on: “The Port is leading some European projects included in the CEF programme which are aimed at building a new valid cargo system for loading LNG to small ships and barges at the Port’s regasification terminal. Also, transforming an existing barge that operates today in Barcelona so that it can supply LNG in addition to conventional fuels HFO and MGO. In addition to this we are working to develop our own regulation for the bunkering operations in the Port, in the STS and TTS mode, that will be ready in the first quarter of 2017.”

In addition to this it also has further major plans to make the Port of Barcelona even more efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly, as Vila said: “We have also got planned the complete renewal of the Port’s internal fleet of vehicles, which will be progressively replaced by electrical units. The aim is for the fleet to be 100 per cent electric by 2020. This measure will be accompanied by rolling out electrical connection infrastructure to the parking areas, car parks and public spaces of the port precinct.”

Therefore, with a history that goes back many hundreds of years, the qualities of the Port and the surrounding area are well entrenched, and yet these have been reliably and repeatedly built upon, creating a modern and enviable Port. Whether it is serving customers from any range of sectors, and providing for any number of needs, the Port of Barcelona has shown time-and-time again that it will achieve the very best for them. All of which has been added to with regular investment, and this no doubt means that the Port of Barcelona will continue to grow and expand, become an even more influential port in the years to come.

Port of Barcelona
Diverse port that acts as five-in-one
Completed its €4 billion investment project
Drive towards sustainability