Port of the month

Port of the Month: Port of Kokkola

28 February 2017

This month, the Port of Kokkola is ESPO’s Port of the Month. The Port of Kokkola is Finland’s biggest bulk port, it runs three port-terminals and functions as a ‘tool port’. Let’s have a closer look at this interesting port!

ESPO: Can you briefly tell us about the Port of Kokkola? What are its main characteristics and challenges?

 Port of Kokkola: The Port of Kokkola is, calculated in cargo volume, the third largest multipurpose port in Finland, specialised in dry bulk. The port is running three port-terminals, the Deep, Silverstone and General port. Each one is dedicated to different tasks.

The Deep port, founded in the mid 80´s, is dedicated to what we call dark bulk, mainly iron-based raw materials for export, but also import of raw materials for the chemical-metallurgical industry in the vicinity of all three port areas. In the Deep port, we can handle both panamax and cape size ships. The average ship size is 75.000 DWT, while the largest ship that called at the port so far is 180.000 DWT. Based on volumes, the Deep port is by far the largest of the three port-terminals.

The Silverstone port, founded only 10 years ago, handles what we call light bulk, including lime stone and different phosphates. In recent years, the Silverstone port area has been in intense development.

The General port, originally founded in 1825, is dedicated to containers, general and project cargoes, while also some light bulk is still being handled.

The Port of Kokkola, operating as a ‘tool port’, is like many other similar ports cooperating closely with a range of associations i.e. port and terminal operators, shipping companies, pilots and agencies. Thanks to these cooperations, the cargo traffic on railway is exceptionally high even for Finnish standards, with a range of railway-related companies and associations. In addition, the port provides for the larger part of crane and warehousing services, including quays and operational areas which are all in common use. In this type of context and taking into account the heavy increase in cargo traffic, the challenge is the coordination of operations by the port while providing an efficient and safe environment for all parties to operate. Since a couple of years, we have succeeded in arranging a weekly and partly daily integrated coordination of operations that helps to smooth the work on all three terminals in both summer and wintertime conditions.

ESPO: The Port of Kokkola is Finland’s biggest bulk port. How is this business evolving? What are the challenges?

Port of Kokkola: For more than 50 years, the port´s strategy has included the provision of services for the mining and metallurgical industry. The challenges are plenty, but at the same time, they are not different from any other similar port or commercial enterprise. The world market and its drivers and the desire to stay up to date are the main keys to a successful operation. Of course, it is crucial to provide the right services at present and more challenging for new customers at the time when it´s needed – with the right capacity and equipment in place. Besides these commercial challenges, other challenges are more related to providing for efficient and more environmentally friendly handling of these commodities. For the port, this means ongoing investments in automating operations as investments for example in washing facilities for cars and heavy duty rolling equipment at terminal gates.

ESPO: The Kokkola Industry Park accommodates the largest concentration of non-organic chemical industry in northern Europe and is located in close vicinity of the port. How is the port involved in developing Kokkola Industry Park’s potential?

Port of Kokkola: The Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP) offers employment to approximately 2000 persons in over 70 companies, which are involved in value added production of importing raw materials and exporting commodities or intermediate products. Over 40% of the port’s throughput is generated from this area. Being far from main markets, it is very important to have adequate logistics, both in summer as in winter. The first priority is that the port can operate efficiently 365 days per year and at all times with sufficient capacity. In winter that means keeping 70 ha of operational area free from snow and sand. The port provides for icebreaking in port areas and state icebreakers on main fairways and sea areas. The cranes and other handling equipment in the port can operate in temperatures as low as -25° C. This means that we seldom stop working, no matter what the conditions are. This is naturally a prerequisite for the producers at the KIP area.

ESPO: The Port of Kokkola is an important import and export port. To get the goods to the desired destination, a good access between the port and the hinterland is needed. Could you briefly tell us how the port is connected with the hinterland?

Port of Kokkola: Finland´s main north-south railway line runs through the city of Kokkola. The port is connected to this main line. The lines to the ports are electrified to the yards outside each of the ports terminals. The main railway line has several connections to the middle part of Finland and via these connections all the way to the Russian border. The Finnish and the Russian railway have the same rail gauge. This provides industries in the middle part of Finland as well as Russian customers with the opportunity to use the services of the Port of Kokkola. The main flow of goods to and from the port is rail-based. Altogether, 60% of the port’s total cargo volumes were transported by rail in 2016 and over 95% of the cargoes originated from outside Kokkola. The road network is well functioning, with a new main road to the port.  Most of the container traffic is road-based.

ESPO: What are the main investment projects in the Port of Kokkola for the upcoming years? Could you briefly describe the importance of these investment projects for the port and the city? Are you benefitting from EU funds (e.g. TEN-T)?

Port of Kokkola: The port is currently not benefitting from EU funds such as TEN-T or others. However, some of the previous investments, especially in the 90´s, were partly EU funded.

The port has recently finished a 100 million Euro investment programme, mainly for increasing the port capacity. The investments included new port areas in the Silverstone and Deep port, new and more rails and new warehouses, cranes and other handling equipment. The present commercial situation seems to require more investments to the same extent in the coming next few years – so to say a positive problem. The port is providing for the port investments within the economical structures of the port company, generating a yearly profit for the owner: the City of Kokkola. That being the direct benefit, the larger benefit can be looked at from the point of view of providing the Kokkola Industry Park, the industry in the middle part of Finland and the logistical sector in Finland participating in the Russian transit traffic with more, better and more efficient logistical possibilities.

ESPO: Transit traffic to and from Russia is an important trade for the Port of Kokkola. Is this trade currently under challenge for the port?

Port of Kokkola: According to the 2016 Finnish port statistics, the Port of Kokkola is the main transit traffic port in Finland for Russian cargo, based on tons. Of course, the port monitors closely the present economic and political environment. To this date, there hasn´t been any difficulties or constraints. The explanation for this can be found in the cargo type that is transported, which is mainly non-strategic iron-based raw materials, and in the associates and persons we prefer to deal with.

ESPO: The EU Sulphur Directive came into force on 1 January 2015, creating a Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and English Channel and limiting the maximum sulphur content of fuels used by ships sailing these waters. How has this been of impact for your port and the environment?

Port of Kokkola: The SECA and the Directive behind it are very good for the environment, which is and should be our main concern. We strongly recommend that other parts of the European Union follow as soon as possible the example of the Baltic and North Sea and the English Channel. Thanks to the current oil price levels, the costs have not been too high.

ESPO: The 2017 ESPO Conference in Barcelona will focus on climate change. In this context, can you briefly tell us more about the port’s environmental policies?

Port of Kokkola: During the last 20 years, the port has expanded fast to meet the growing goods flow. Since the policy is to be a sustainable and safe port, we are an active player in these fields. When building infrastructure, we are continuously seeking for new methods to make the port even safer and more sustainable. For example in 2010-2012, we together with Sweden and some other ports in the Baltic were a partner of the SMOCS (Sustainable Management of Contaminated Sediments) project led by the Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI). The aim was to convert contaminated dredged sediments into sustainable building material. The new area in the Deep port of Kokkola is built of these stabilised sediments. This method is now spread to other parts of Europe.

Another project we take part in is a programme of measuring the ship emissions. Based on the ship type for each berth and the distance from the port boundaries, we measure since 2008 the CO, HC, NOx, PM, CH4, N2o, SO2 and CO2 emissions of ships. Additionally, we have air quality controls once a year.

The waste management system in the port has been a focus for many years and now all waste is sorted and all waste from vessels can be handled.

All in all, in everything that we do, we try to combine the economical goal with the environmental and safety goals to make the port even more sustainable. 

Climate change, however, is not seen as a severe risk for the Port of Kokkola within the next 20 years. Since the land is rising in this area by 1 cm/year, the rising sea levels are not seen as a high risk and the quays are high enough to meet this challenge. Heavy rains sometimes delay the vessels with sensitive cargo. The All Weather Terminal in the Port of Kokkola provides excellent service for these vessels, which can load and unload the cargo under roof without interruption.

ESPO: ESPO is a partner of PORTOPIA, an FP7 project that aims to measure port performance. What is the Port of Kokkola's approach for measuring the port’s performance?

Port of Kokkola: The port performance is followed with a range of different indicators. We monitor cargo volumes, vessel statistics, financial indices, environmental indices and operations efficiency. We measure for example usage of berths, cranes, loading and unloading efficiency per crane/ship/cargo or per cargo type for any range of time usually from shift to one day to yearly averages for a specific cargo type. Additionally, we measure unloading of railway wagons. All measures are then generated into monthly and yearly specific and consolidated reports. Logistic chains are more difficult for the port to monitor because we don´t have access to all information, but we are aware of different commodities roundtrip from origin to destination.

Market trends and structure is not measured but thoroughly monitored through different sources. For the environmental part, the established practice of measuring can be found in areas like air and seawater quality, which are continuously measured.

User perceptions, safety and security are an ongoing process and are audited regularly.

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