The use of hydrogen as fuel would soon be embarked upon by Dutch-Belgian North Sea Port.
A representative of the port told World Maritime News at Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference 2018 in Amsterdam.
“We recently commissioned a pipeline from Dow to Yara to transport hydrogen. We are already bunkering LNG vessels and when the right moment is there, we are ready also to invest in hydrogen as fuel or at least to make it available in our port area,” Peter Geertse, Commercial Manager of North Sea Port, said in an interview with our publication.
International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a climate change strategy for shipping which envisages a reduction of total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
When asked about this strategy, Geertse said it is indirectly involved by supporting the port industry to move to more renewable energy sources. For example, companies such as Dow, Yara and ArcelorMittal have launched projects to reduce CO2 emissions and the port is supporting them.
This October, the first truck-to-ship LNG bunkering was carried out in Ghent. In Vlissingen, such operations have already been done.
“Right now, LNG bunkering is mainly done by truck which is more efficient because we don’t have an LNG terminal in our port.
There is one in Rotterdam and Zeebrugge and those have enough capacity to serve the northwestern and southwestern regions of Europe,” Geertse explained.
He added that, for now, North Sea Port will offer mainly truck and barge bunkering as there are not many seagoing vessels using LNG.
Geertse also said that different bunker companies are present at the port and they are prepared for the upcoming IMO sulphur cap.
“You will see more and more low sulphur bunkering taking place in our port area as well. A lot of Scandinavian companies have their plans in our ports and they are very conscious of sustainability. They are insisting on scrubbers and new ways of fueling their vessels,” according to Geertse.
The cross-border port was established recently following a merger between Dutch Zeeland Seaports (Flushing, Borsele and Terneuzen) and Belgian Ghent Port Company (Ghent).
Announced in December 2017, the merger was completed seven months later. The process started a few years ago and involved extensive research and investigation. However, the merger has been completed relatively fast because of a strong support of the authorities and shareholders.
“There is still one decision to be made on Belgium’s side because the position of the port is a little bit different in Holland but we have already got some guarantees. What remains are the details and the formalities,” Geertse informed.
When asked about the experiences regarding the integration of the two organizations with Dutch and Flemish employees, Geertse replied: “It is still early to say anything because we are still in that process. The commercial part has already been integrated which I believe went well.”
According to Geertse, the good thing is that nobody would be laid off. Instead, the port is looking to hire new people as well.
“We already cooperate quite a lot and we are actually very close, especially the southern part of Zeeland is already very close to Belgium. When it comes to differences, they might feel funny – same language, but at the same time different expressions. But I think it will work out well.”
“This cross-border merger is unique on the continent. There is also one other port which merged and that is Malmö and Copenhagen. We will see whether other ports in Europe will be following our practice as well.”
With regard to benefits North Sea Port expects to gain from the merger, Geertse said they can be primarily found in economies of scale.
“In the workforce segment, we now have the economies of scale to invest in the right people while previously we had to source out of the company. We now have the right people to do the technical side of building the quay sites.”
In addition, benefits can be found in promoting the port: “Rather than spending money on two different ports in promoting ourselves, we now promote one port, which is a bigger port from the European perspective. There you can attract more customers and bigger companies as well.”
In order to remain competitive, North Sea Port collaborates with other ports, the Port of Rotterdam and the Port of Antwerp, among others. What is more, a number of innovative projects are planned at the port.
In support of these projects, digitalization is particularly important, Geertse believes: “We have to incorporate more digitalization in our port operation as everything will be more digitalized in the future. We will have to invest into that in the coming years. The first challenge for us is to integrate two different systems of the two former ports into one.”
Another segment which has to be tackled is vessel reporting which needs to be harmonized and made more efficient in the future. Moreover, systems related to internal processes like customer service and statistics need to be integrated. That will be the main challenges for North Sea Port’s IT department in the coming period, according to Geertse.
At the end of 2017, North Sea Port said it intended to increase its maritime traffic to 70 million tons by 2022. This goal might be achieved even earlier as the port already saw 53 million tons being transshipped via seagoing vessels during the first nine months of this year.
Source: City Business