Hav­ing the best hin­ter­land con­nec­tiv­ity and in­fra­struc­ture in Ger­many, Wilhelmshaven Port is now look­ing for­ward to in­crease main­line calls and con­nect to more des­ti­na­tions across the globe

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Q What is unique about Wilhelmshaven Port?

The port of Wilhelmshaven is de­signed for ul­tra large con­tainer ves­sels that are longer than 360 me­ters with a draft of 16.5 me­ters. We are the only port in Ger­many able to han­dle these ves­sels. This is no com­pe­ti­tion for Ham­burg or Bre­mer­haven, be­cause we have geo­graph­i­cal ad­van­tage that these big ves­sels can en­ter our port with­out any prob­lems. This is one of our USPS. OOCL is call­ing to our port since mid-last year reg­u­larly so far with one ser­vice and the big­gest con­tainer ships of the world – “OOCL Hong Kong.”

We are a Green­field port di­rectly con­nect­ing to a 160 hectares of freight vil­lage which is also very close to the ter­mi­nal and this is very dif­fer­ent com­pared to our com­pe­ti­tion ports in An­twerp and Rot­ter­dam, where cargo has to move quite a long way to reach the ter­mi­nal area.

The fair­way is 800 me­ters wide, it’s just 23 nau­ti­cal miles - the ap­proach from open sea to the berth is one and half hour sail­ing time only and this is also one of our USPS. We are ex­tremely well con­nected to the hin­ter­land, we have mar­shalling yards that can ac­com­mo­date 6 full length cargo trains at any given time. These trains can si­mul­ta­ne­ously con­nect to the ter­mi­nal, which means there is no stop­ping or wait­ing time for trains. We have su­perb road con­nec­tiv­ity with the high­way end­ing 900 me­ters in front of the port. These fea­tures make us the best con­nected port to the hin­ter­land in Ger­many.

Q Tell us about the ter­mi­nal in­fra­struc­ture?

We have 30 hectares of ter­mi­nal area, 1,725 me­ters pier length, cur­rently op­er­at­ing eight gantry cranes. We are of the opin­ion that the ter­mi­nal op­er­a­tor Euro­gate has to in­crease the num­ber of gantry cranes as more ship­ping lines are ask­ing for it. Euro­gate has a very fast op­er­a­tional system for swift han­dling of con­tain­ers. They op­er­ate five lanes in the back­yard and five lanes di­rectly un­der the gantry crane. So our move counts are very high com­pared to other ports.

Q What is the cur­rent draft at the ter­mi­nals?

We have min­i­mum 18 me­ters draft which is unique at the Ger­man coast

at low tide and at high tide we have 21 me­ters. Wilhelmshaven has been han­dling dry bulk, liq­uid bulk, coal, oil and chem­i­cals. Con­tainer busi­ness is rel­a­tively new. Ex­clud­ing the con­tainer busi­ness Wilhelmshaven is the third big­gest port in Ger­many. The port has posted 12 per cent Y-O-Y growth.

Q What is driv­ing this growth and what is the con­tainer cargo han­dled at the port?

The to­tal ca­pac­ity of this port is 2.7- 3 mil­lion teus and last year we made about 550,000 teus. Last year the num­ber of rail con­nec­tions has dra­mat­i­cally in­creased and we gained 25 new reg­u­lar rail con­nec­tions into the Ger­man, Aus­tralian and Switzer­land hin­ter­land. Our main customers come from agri­cul­ture, chem­i­cals and au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.

At Rot­ter­dam they have some ad­van­tages like the connection to River Rhine into the hin­ter­land, which is dif­fi­cult for the Ger­man ports in to­tal.

Q Tell us about your In­dia connection?

Maersk vis­its our port reg­u­larly and we are try­ing to in­crease the num­ber of book­ings. The ME1 ser­vice of Saf­ma­rine calls on weekly ba­sis to our port. Ef­fec­tive Jan­uary 2018, we also have our rep­re­sen­ta­tive in In­dia to bet­ter un­der­stand the In­dian mar­ket, mak­ing con­tacts.

Q What kind of cargo moves be­tween In­dia and Wilhelmshaven?

Main ex­ports com­ing from

In­dia are au­to­mo­tives, au­to­mo­bile ac­ces­sories and im­ports in­clude chem­i­cal prod­ucts. We are in talks with Volk­swa­gen to de­velop a ware­hous­ing and con­sol­i­da­tion cen­tre in our port and this way they can save a lot of money in FOB cost. The idea is to have the ware­house close to the ter­mi­nal that will save a lot of cost for them and the cargo will move to China, their big­gest mar­ket. The sec­ond step would be to move In­dian cargo via this ware­house. This will im­prove our vol­ume to In­dia tremen­dously. The third step will be to in­crease our vol­umes from Mexico.

Q What are your plans for the open space at the port?

A cus­tomer is plan­ning a con­tainer stor­age area as ship­ping lines have been ask­ing for it. We are also plan­ning stor­age space for chem­i­cals, dan­ger­ous goods and break bulk for pack­ing and truck­ing. We have also planned a con­tainer re­pair ser­vice.

A train connection be­tween Western Ger­many and Wilhelmshaven is planned to move chem­i­cals. An in­vestor will de­velop ware­house that will be used by small com­pa­nies. Small slots of 500 sq. mts will be avail­able for them. A park­ing area for more than 300 trucks is de­vel­oped. We are about to dou­ble the area for han­dling reefer cargo. About 30 per cent of the space avail­able at the port has al­ready been booked, an­other 30 per cent is un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion and the rest is on of­fer.

Q Since you don’t have much of man­u­fac­tur­ing hin­ter­land, how do you in­tend to grow?

We in­tend to grow by mak­ing our land more at­trac­tive for com­pa­nies to set­tle down in our freight vil­lage by set­ting up pro­duc­tion units, ware­houses and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres.

Q Have you been able to di­vert cargo traf­fic from Ham­burg or any other Ger­man Port?

We are not do­ing it ac­tively, but it hap­pens be­cause we of­fer bet­ter ser­vices. Fur­ther if the cargo ori­gin or des­ti­na­tion is closer to Wilhelmshaven Port than any other Ger­man port, then it’s a nat­u­ral re­flex that customers change their port of choice.

Some­times our fel­low ports in Ham­burg or Bre­mer­haven have prob­lems such as con­ges­tion or in­fra­struc­ture is­sues. This causes the ships to di­vert to our port and here they ex­pe­ri­ence their busi­ness hap­pen­ing quick and at a cheaper cost.

Q An­twerp and Rot­ter­dam boast of ex­cel­lent con­nec­tiv­ity to hin­ter­land in Ger­many. Are you get­ting any cargo from them?

We have so­licited some ac­counts from An­twerp and Rot­ter­dam. Both these ports have ex­cel­lent hin­ter­land con­nec­tions and when it comes to barge trans­port via river Rhine, we are lost. You can­not com­pete against them. What we are lack­ing is more ship­ping lines call­ing our port and we need a much wider of­fer on the des­ti­na­tions. Then we could eas­ily at­tract a sec­ond In­dian ser­vice and an­other ser­vice to and from the western hemi­sphere. Our con­nec­tiv­ity to China is re­ally good, but to In­dia we have one ser­vice and we could do an­other eas­ily. Big ship­pers like chem­i­cal and au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try when they build a ware­house, they look for a so­lu­tion to all their des­ti­na­tions. So ports that have mul­ti­ple con­nec­tiv­ity will be in busi­ness and this is the ad­van­tage that ports in An­twerp and Rot­ter­dam have. They have the whole world on of­fer, while we are in the be­gin­ning and mainly have In­dia, China and lit­tle tran­ship­ment via Sin­ga­pore to other Asian des­ti­na­tions.

We are strength­en­ing the ex­ist­ing ser­vice of Saf­ma­rine, try­ing to at­tract our port to Saf­ma­rine. Our ad­van­tage is due to the three slots on the rail avail­able so the cargo can move on any time re­quested. This fa­cil­ity is some­times not avail­able in other ports be­cause they are too crowded. The rakes are heav­ily booked, so some­times customers have to wait. Mov­ing cargo through River Rhine is a good al­ter­na­tive, but when the river runs shal­low or too high, it is dif­fi­cult to move cargo. In such sce­nario our vol­umes will in­crease and this is a chance for us to get a grip on these car­goes.

An­dreas Bull­winkel MD, Con­tainer Ter­mi­nal Wilhelmshaven Jadeweserport Mar­ket­ing Gmbh & Co. KG

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