Port Pro of the month

Port pro of the month: Ingvar M. Mathisen (NO)

28 February 2019

For this port pro of the month, we are interviewing Ingvar M. Mathisen, who started as Port Director/CEO at Port of Oslo in August 2017. The Board of Directors was very clear it wanted a renewed focus on the port’s core business: port development and increasing cargo and passenger throughput. This renewed focus came after the port focused mainly on transforming previous port areas to city development projects for over a decade. Mathisen previously held the same position at the Port of Bodo in Northern Norway for 12 years.

(c) Port of Oslo

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

The Port of Oslo is Norway’s largest public multipurpose cargo port and its leading container and passenger gateway, as well as the largest passenger port. Half of the Norwegian population lives less than three hours away from the port. 

Oslo is ranked number three among the world's leading port cities, beaten only by Singapore and Hamburg. This ranking, validated by 250 international maritime experts and based on almost 50 indicators, was performed by Menon Economics on behalf of DNV-GL in the report “The leading maritime capitals of the world 2017”.

Although Oslo and Norway are humble players in a big world, we have one of the world's leading maritime clusters and score particularly well in maritime finance, law and technology. Oslo is also considered to be one of the best in coping with the digital transformation in the maritime sector. Port of Oslo is proud of being part of the city’s maritime cluster.

Oslo is the 2019 European Green Capital. The port is a central part of the city’s climate initiative green shift and plays a major role in providing sustainable cargo transport to the future ‘zero emission City of Oslo’. Moving more cargo from road to maritime transport reduces at least 50% of both air pollution and CO2 emissions. Port of Oslo is the low emission highway for cargo and consumer goods to the City and our whole region. The goal is to reduce 85% of the CO2 emissions by 2030.

The main challenge for the Port of Oslo is being a city port, which requires us to undertake numerous measures to be in harmony with our surroundings in order to be able to grow our business.

For the Port of Oslo, as it should be for all ports, the increased environmental concerns and measures to cut emissions is not as much of a challenge as it is an opportunity. Because, as the old Norwegian saying says, the seaway is the environmental friendly way.

Before taking up the position of CEO of the Port of Oslo in 2018, you were Port Director/CEO of the Port of Bodø and Chairman of Cruise Norway, a national organisation for promoting cruise ports and destinations. Regarding cruise, what are the main challenges? Do you foresee a bright future for the cruise business in your port?

The cruise business was not prioritised by the Port of Oslo in the last couple of years for various reasons. This is one of the reasons why the number of passengers dropped from about 312,000 in our record year (2011) to about 169,000 in 2016. In the same period the number of cruise passengers to Norway grew by about 1 million passengers. Now the number of cruise calls to Oslo has increased significantly from 98 calls in 2018 to 125 (+ 27,6 %) and 141 (+12,8%) booked for 2019 and 2020 respectively. Oslo is being rediscovered. We have so much to offer, starting from sailing in the beautiful Oslo fjord, to centrally located cruise quays very close to the city centre and the abundance of shore attractions suited for every age, group size, activity levels, etc.

The main challenges for cruise ports in Norway are the increased environmental concerns and the fact that the largest cruise ports are starting to reach the limit in terms of the number of passengers that their destinations can handle without facing overcrowding issues on certain dates.

Against this backdrop, Oslo has a great advantage in comparison with other cruise port destinations in Norway as it has a greater capacity for additional cruise calls. We also have the objective to grow sustainably, which means attracting the newest and most environmentally efficient cruise ships through a new port tariff.

(c) Port of Oslo

The Port of Oslo has recently decided to develop a new cargo port in Sydhavna. What were the motives for developing a new cargo port? Which types of cargo are you aiming to attract to this new port?

In 2009 the City Council decided that the future cargo port in Oslo will be located in Sydhavna (meaning “South Port”), as part of the “Fjord City” plan. Developing the Fjord City means reducing the area used for port activities by half, from eleven to six kilometers of Oslo's coastline, but still being able to handle future cargo growth. The goals put forth in our strategy plan are ambitious: during the planning period 2013-2030, the Port of Oslo is aiming to transport 50% more freight and 40% more passengers.

Norway's largest cargo port in Sydhavna has undergone a great transformation. The Port of Oslo has so far invested NOK 2.1 billion in infrastructure and superstructure for the container terminal alone and will undertake further expansions over the next few years.

The increased container volume in 2018 was mainly stemming from European cargo, which previously came to Norway by truck. Changes in the transport market and the lack of truck drivers in several countries in Europe have led to increased prices for road transport.

Our container terminal operator YILPort had a close dialogue with market players, changed the dynamics of the supply chain and improved the operating times to compete with road transport. This resulted in new shipping lines being established and more goods. In April 2018, the shipping companies Viasea and Containerships started a new weekly route from Klapeida in Lithuania via Gdynia in Poland to Oslo.

Sydhavna accommodates most types of goods ranging from containers, oil products, grain, salt, cement, new cars, refuse derived fuel, scrap iron, etc. We are now in the final round of revising our strategy plan, after which we will complete the Masterplan for Sydhavna, deciding which business (cargoes) we should prioritise and where and which we can’t prioritise due to our limited space.

The Port of Oslo is located on the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). How has being part of the corridor been of benefit to the port?

The main goal of TEN-T is to close gaps, remove bottlenecks and eliminate technical barriers that exist between the transport networks of EU Member States, strengthen the social, economic and territorial cohesion of the Union and contribute to the creation of a single European transport area.

The Port of Oslo became a TEN-T Core Network port because we were fulfilling the criteria of being one of Europe’s most important connections within the Comprehensive Network linking the most important nodes.

Since the Port of Oslo basically is an import and export port, we have shipping lines to other ports in the TEN-T network, such as Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven and Hamburg. Most of the TEN-T projects are land-based connections. Some of them will benefit ports we have shipping line connections to, or they could make possibilities for new shipping lines to the Port.

However, the Port of Oslo does not receive any EU-funding for the investments we have to undertake – that we have to cover ourselves.

Digitalisation is expected to be one of the major drivers of the development of the maritime sector in the future. Which initiatives are you taking to modernise and digitalise port operations in Oslo? 

The ports are central to the streamlining and digitisation of sea transport. Shipping companies, ships and agents expect standardisation and seamless use of the port's infrastructure and services. Quay and service management must be digitised.

The Port of Oslo wants to offer good, seamless digital solutions for its port customers. In this way, we can contribute to improving the efficiency and competitiveness of maritime transport so that more goods are transported by sea. Therefore, we took an initiative for a project named "Digital interaction between port, vessel, agent and shipping company". The Port of Oslo owns the project, which is headed by Grieg Logistics,  with other Norwegian ports as partners. The Norwegian Coastal Administration also supported the project. The goal was to cut 50-80% of the time that ports, vessels, shipping companies and agents currently use in their interactions on all regular calls.

Furthermore, the Port of Oslo has a modern, state-of-the art container terminal operated by YILPort Oslo. It is among the world’s most modern container terminals with advanced logistics systems and modern, environmentally friendly terminal equipment.  We are confident that the ongoing automatisation projects in the terminal will strengthen Yilport Oslo’s position as Norway’s short sea hub even further. The already implemented automatic gates have increased traffic flow and efficiency. YILPort is currently in the process of implementing remote operation of the RTG cranes, which will improve flexibility even further especially when it comes to gate opening hours.

The Port of Oslo has recently, and for the first time, established a Digitalisation strategy. We will focus on modernising and digitalising port operations, and in cooperation with port operators, on adopting new technologies. Key elements of this strategy have been the mapping and redesign of work processes, adapting infrastructure and technology, focusing on digitalisation and competence in the port’s management as well as the entire organisation. Our new mantra is that “whatever can be digitalised, shall be digitalised.” 

(c) Port of Oslo

On 15-19 October, the Port of Oslo will host the GreenPort Cruise & Congress, which annually gathers port professionals to debate the latest environmental issues and initiatives in the maritime sector. Furthermore, the European Commission has awarded the city of Oslo with the European Green Capital Award. In this context, what is your view on making the port sector more sustainable? Is the Port of Oslo taking any initiatives in this respect?  

We are proud to host Green Port Cruise & Congress for 2019, and showcase the city of Oslo in the capital's environmental year. Oslo is one of Europe's most ambitious and active cities in the area of ​​environment and climate. As the 2019 European Green Capital, Oslo has taken on leadership in the green transition.

The City of Oslo and Port of Oslo have considerably more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions than the targets defined at a national level. Norwegian authorities are aiming to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared with emissions levels in 1990, while the City of Oslo aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 36% by 2020 and 95% by 2030.

The action plan “Port of Oslo as a zero-emission port” states that CO2 emissions from shipping and activities from the Port of Oslo in 2017 amounted to 55,300 tons of CO2. A total of 17 measures are assessed in this action plan, and overall these are estimated to bring about a reduction of 46,700 tons of CO2 by 2030. This is equivalent to an 85% reduction compared with emission levels in 2017. Similar or greater reductions of SOX, NOX and particulate matter will also be achieved. These are highly proactive plans that will require major upheavals both behavior-wise and in respect of technology.

The action plan shows how further development of infrastructure at the port, partnerships and subsidies for the commissioning of emissions-free solutions, plus a clear course where the City of Oslo requests and requires zero-emissions technology in all sectors, will help to ensure that shipping and the port meet existing reduction targets and may become emissions-free in the long term. Clear targets are set for 2030, with an 85% reduction in current greenhouse gas emissions, and after that efforts will continue so that the Port of Oslo becomes a zero-emissions port in the long term.

The port is also promoting alternative fuels, new technology and building infrastructure for emission free solutions (for instance shore power for ships). We also have environmental grants for promoting more modern and greener technology in the port. One of our customers who has received money from this grant is YILPort, our container terminal operator. YILPort Oslo aims to become a zero emission container terminal and is well on its way to achieving that goal and wants to be at the forefront of development.

This January we opened a new shore power facility that will be able to connect the international ferries to Denmark operated by DFDS and Stena Line. Currently two of the three ferries have been retrofitted with shore power connections, while the last will be retrofitted next January. The CO2 reduction from this initiative is equivalent to emissions from more than 1300 cars annually. This initiative builds on the existing shore power connection established in 2011 for the two international ferries of Color Line, which serve on the Oslo-Kiel line. Our next focus will be to provide shore power connections in Sydhavna for container ship, tankers, dry bulk ships, etc.

The Port of Oslo is of also making efforts in the way it operates. For instance, already most of the ports’ own vehicles and working vans are electric. We ask for zero emission equipment on our building sites and make long-term agreements with suppliers who invest in new technology. The Port of Oslo is ISO 14001 – 2015 certified in order to ensure a high environmental standard and contribute to a sustainable society.

The Port of Oslo is located near the heart of the city. Developing a good relationship with the local population is therefore of paramount importance. What initiatives is the Port of Oslo taking to improve the relationship between the port and the local community?

As a city port located in the heart of the city, we not only have to be much more efficient in handling cargo, but we also had to develop the new port Sydhavna with a focus on aesthetics while at the same time minimising noise and pollution, because of the proximity to private homes located at the hillside overlooking the Sydhavna. Therefore, we have created buffer zones in the form of green recreational areas between the city and the port, in cooperation with the local community. In 2019 we will open a new green activity park, with bathing facilities, BMX-trails, basketball court, parkour and playground equipment, etc.

The Port of Oslo has furthermore facilitated and provided accessibility to the sea to Oslo’s inhabitants and visitors by transforming previous port areas to city developments. Oslo’s new harbour promenade stretches nine kilometers along Oslo’s waterfront, combining sightseeing, history, art, architecture, restaurants, etc. It ties the city together from east to west, turning different parts of the city into a sequence of great experiences. Orange shipping containers of various sizes function as information towers and are set up at regular intervals along the whole promenade, to make sure you find your way. On warm summer days thousand come to swim or take a day trip out to the lovely islands close by.  

The Oslo-fjord seabed is cleaner than it has been for the past 100 years after a big clean up where 95-99% of the polluted sediments were removed from areas close to the city center. During the summer months, one can on particular days see 30-40 people fishing from one of the quays in the city, and they are getting a lot of fish that they can safely prepare and eat.

Stopping urban pollution is a big task for the port and the City, which are collaborating closely on this matter. The Port of Oslo is developing and uses smart, green technology such as drones (both in the air and in the sea), floating garbage bins and a new electric environmental boat to contribute to removing plastic and waste from the fjord. Drones and the bins remove waste both from the seabed and the surface, and are also part of our efficient port maintenance.

(c) Port of Oslo

Norway is not a member of the European Union. However, it is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which means that the country has access to the EU Single Market. In May, EU citizens will vote for a new Parliament and hence also a new Commission. How important is this for you? What would be your main message to the new European Parliament and Commission?

While the EU and EEA are essential to Norway in so many ways, the vote for a new Parliament and Commission is fairly distant as the country is not politically represented in the EU. Norway is nevertheless diligent in implementing EU directives and policy in most areas. The EU is a driving force for developing and implementing policies in the environmental area.

Therefore, there is one particular message I would like to send to the new European Parliament and Commission:

Restrictions on landfill in Europe have put a lot of waste-materials on the move to find better ways of utilising the remaining resources in waste. Sorting waste has become a way to minimise cost and maximise value in the waste chain, recycling what can be recycled in locations where those particular waste fractions have a value. This requires transport. Recycling, as a consequence, gives rise to more transport.

Sea transport is a facilitator of this trade, and therefore of recycling. Next year the EU will take steps aiming at going from energy recycling to material recycling. This gives rise to yet another sorting exercise to distil more cost reductions by finding processes and locations where those particular waste fractions have a value in production. Again the location of the waste and the location of the material recycling require bridging, which again drives a demand for transport.

Sea transport is here again a facilitator of recycling and the ports (and functions performed in European ports) are essential in this process. It is vital for the new Parliament and Commission to be aware of how environmental objectives depend on sea transport and ports as facilitators of trade, and that trade in waste fractions needs to be encouraged in order to match producers and users of waste resources. 

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