Nordic influence

From its prime position among the Faroe Islands, located northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway, the Port of Tórshavn (Tórshavnar havn) represents a vital hub to the island’s inhabitants as well as to various industry players within the region. The Faroe Islands are comprised of a unique archipelago of 18 islands, with its capital and largest city of Tórshavn representing one of the smallest capital cities in the world. Throughout its history Port of Tórshavn has enjoyed great success as a base for North Atlantic fishing vessels, a centre for the countries container and Ro-Ro ferry traffic and an increasingly popular summer destination for cruise ships.

The Port of Tórshavn takes its name from ‘The Port of Thor’, after the Nordic god and has existed since the arrival of the first early settlers to the Faroe Islands. While the harbour dates back for more than 100 years, the port has seen several important evolutions and in recent years a process of consolidation has led to the Faroe municipalities of Kollafjørður, Nolsøy, Kirkjubøur, Hestur and Koltur being absorbed into Tórshavn. As a result more than 40 per cent of the Faroe Islands population lives within Tórshavn and its extended municipal boundaries. A further consequence of this process of municipal enlargement was the significant widening of the operating area of Port of Tórshavn, which today also includes facilities at Sund and Kollafjørður.

Tórshavnar havn is owned by Tórshavn Municipality, meaning that the port is subsequently not in private ownership, however it operates in the same way as a private enterprise and is therefore constantly looking for ways to improve and expand its turnover. “Port of Tórshavn is self-financed and lives off the income that it generates for itself. That means that we need to provide infrastructure and business opportunities for both our customers and the port directly,” explains CFO, Annfinn Hjelm. “The Faroe economy has been relatively positive over the past few years, which is demonstrated by the port’s import figures. Almost 100 per cent of the countries import goods in terms of container cargo arrive through our facilities, while goods like heavy fuel oil (HFO) are shipped to bunker stations around the Faroe Islands. The port also deals with significant exports, mainly of fish and fish related products and although this is not necessarily a growing market, it has remained strong and at high levels in recent years.”

Tórshavn is by far the largest port in the Faroe Islands for containerised cargo and routinely services vessels sailing links between Tórshavn and Iceland, Scandinavia, Continental Europe and the UK. When Tórshavnar havn was previously featured in Shipping & Marine magazine during March 2015, Annfinn discussed how analysis into the port’s operations and capacity revealed that the port would require further space to grow and ensure that the facility can continue to serve newer and larger vessels. “Our main focus area at Port of Tórshavn is to provide infrastructure primarily for cargo and passenger traffic. The capacities that we have at present have really been stretched recently, especially if you consider the size of modern container vessels and the increasing draft of ships. We are operating at the maximum of this range and the evolution of ships shows us that these vessels are growing in size, thus we need more quay space and greater draft dept,” he elaborates. “Today we have a maximum draft of around nine metres and the container vessels that arrive today have drafts of just below nine metres, so there is absolutely no possibility to receive larger ships.”

As a result of this analysis Port of Tórshavn announced the implementation of a significant expansion project in 2015, which is currently in its tender stage and due to begin construction during Summer 2016. The development of the port will allow it to better serve clients within the cargo sector and also offer promising advantages to cruise and passenger shipping. “The expansion project will add a further 700 metres of quayside to the port and a greater draft depth of 15 metres. That will most likely futureproof the port for the next couple of generations of container ship,” Annfinn details. “Since cargo is a much larger part of the business, it has been the driver for development. However the passenger and cruise side of the business will also yield some benefit from the project, because in addition to the extra quayside we will add around 95,000m2 of harbour area that can be used for warehouses, container storage and the other facilities. Today passenger traffic in terms of cruise and ferry operations share berths with container vessels. When the expansion is completed, we will be able to separate these two business areas, thus making life better for all of our customers in the passenger and cargo markets.”

During the rest of 2016 Port of Tórshavn will continue to prepare for the development of its port expansion project. Looking to the future of the port, Annfinn is confident that continued investment in the facility will allow Tórshavnar havn remain as an important hub for years to come. “Obviously the expansion project will take up all of our time during this year and the construction period will be around three years. We are presently in the tender period and in late March we will open up the envelopes and know the price. There may be some negotiation and then we hope that the expansion project will start in the summer,” he concludes. “In the next five years I hope to see the new port area filled up with cargo and transit goods, while the existing facilities will be filled with passengers.”

Port of Tórshavn
Port operates around two thirds of the import and export of Faroes

Significant expansion project planned for 2016

Ideal location halfway between Iceland and Norway