Port of Kiel Posts Positive Results for 2014
The Port of Kiel can post positive results for 2014. Both cargo handling and passenger totals continued to rise.
The port turned over 6.43 million tons of cargo, 1.6 % more than in the previous year. Stena Line’s Kiel-Gothenburg route recorded the biggest increase in general cargo handling while Color Line’s Kiel-Oslo service posted the strongest growth in passenger transport. During the year a total of 1.98 million passengers started or ended a ferry or cruise ship journey in Kiel - an increase of 1.9 %. Dirk Claus, Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (SEEHAFEN KIEL GmbH & Co. KG) said: “along with the growth in transport to and from Scandinavia and a rise in bulk cargo handling, there was, however, a decline in business with eastern Europe. The port currently finds itself in a situation aversely affected by the crisis in the Ukraine, a weak Russian currency and new environmental regulations.” While ferry traffic to and from Scandinavia rose by a good 5 % to more than 2.7 million tons, eastern Europe transport showed similar decline to only just about 2.4 million tons.
An important growth factor in 2014 has been bulk cargo handling - especially the handling of building materials. Thanks to the expansion of outdoor storage areas in the Scheerhafen, the port was able to handle 370,000 tons of loose gravel for the first time. “Kiel is ideally located to supply the construction industry in the whole of Schleswig-Holstein and as far as Hamburg”, said Dirk Claus. “The Scheerhafen is of great regional importance”, he declared. On the eastern bank of the Kiel Fiord work is meanwhile underway to expand the Ostuferhafen – Kiel’s cargo and logistics hub. Six hectares of additional area are being reclaimed there. Among other things, a new drainage system for the area is being created, interlocking concrete paving laid, lamp posts being erected and the site fenced in to comply with ISPS regulations. “We are creating urgently needed operational and outdoor storage areas to promote further growth in sectors such as forestry products”, says Dirk Claus. The SEEHAFEN KIEL with the support of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, is investing a total of about 12 million Euros in the Ostuferhafen. The work will be completed in the summer of 2015.
Intermodal Traffic Gains a lot of Ground
Last year, 26,450 units were handled at Kiel rail terminals dedicated to intermodal cargo traffic. The figure was an increase of 11.3 %. Dirk Claus said “environmentally friendly rail transport to the point of embarcation has been a complete success and has gained dramatically in significance.” To process growing volumes in good time, the Port of Kiel has invested in new handling technology. The Ostuferhafen was first equipped with a high-capacity portal crane and then a comparable unit was put into operation at the Schwedenkai Terminal in autumn 2014.
Intermodal shuttle trains transport Kiel rail cargo five times a week to and from Hamburg-Billwerder, linking up with the national rail network. From there the same rolling stock travels on to Duisburg without trans-shipment, providing a direct connection to the Ruhr. Because of this, two train services have been replaced which have operated directly to Duisburg until now. Those services were dropped from the time-table in December 2014. “Unfortunately, because of trade restrictions imposed on Russia”, commented Dirk Claus, “there is at the moment not enough cargo volume coming from the Baltic to fill direct trains to Duisburg.”
Volume increases were particularly notable in 2014 on the Kiel-Verona route which is fed by Scandinavian services. In order to offer additional capacity, train combinations can be lengthened by two waggons with immediate effect. Adjustments at the Kiel-Meimersdorf Marshalling Yards mean that train combinations of up to 550 m are now possible, compared to 500 m previously. It is also planned to take advantage of such longer train combinations on the direct route between Kiel and Verona, which is currently served five times a week. “Switching cargo traffic onto the railways has proved particularly beneficial in Alpine transit. We expect further growth on this route”, said Dirk Claus.
ECO Rules Mean New Challenges
The introduction of new environmental regulations in the Baltic shipping area as of January 1st has meant that shipping companies now face new challenges. To comply with the new regulations, ships have to be driven by marine Diesel oil or be retro-fitted with modern gas emissions cleaning equipment. Dirk Claus said “we welcome steps to protect the environment. However if the increased costs incurred lead to cargo switching back to road transport then neither the seaports nor the environment will be served.” The shipping company DFDS Seaways has already retro-fitted the ships it operates on the Kiel-Klaipeda route with scrubbers. The ferries of Color Line are currently being retro-fitted at a Danish shipyard. By contrast, Stena Line has decided to operate its ship “Stena Germanica” with environmentally friendly Methanol in future.
As a Kiel port contribution to climate protection, Norwegenkai plans to install a shore-based ship power supply connection. Dirk Claus said “plans are well advanced and an application for funding support has already been made to the state of Schleswig-Holstein. We are ready to implement the idea as soon as the EU notification procedure has been completed. Actual building will then take six months.”
More Capacity for Cruise Ships
During 2014 Kiel was visited a total of 127 times by 25 different cruise ships of total 7.2 million GT. That compares with 128 visits and 7.8 million GT in 2013. Last year 354,050 passengers boarded or disembarked in Kiel, compared with 363,476 passengers in 2013. “We can look back”, said Dirk Claus, “on a season marked by the inauguration of our third terminal berth for big cruise ships”. At the start of June the new passenger pavilion at the cruise ship Berth 1 was officially opened in the Ostuferhafen to mark the arrival of “Costa Pacifica”. New at the Ostseekai Terminal meanwhile is the “Seafarer’s Lounge”, made available to ship crews by the German Seamen’s Mission.
Registrations for the current 2015 season total 121. That’s a few less than last year but, on the other hand, the average size of ships is rising markedly. The tonnage of cruise ships calling at Kiel this year will rise to more than 8.4 million GT for the first time, 16.7 % more than last year. Noticeable is the high number of repeat visits. On nine dates during the season there will be three cruise ships berthed in the port at the same time and on five dates as many as four cruise liners will be tied up together at the terminals – in addition to the regular ferries of Color Line, Stena Line and DFDS Seaways. “Our new Berth 1 for cruise ships has become available at just the right time”, said Dirk Claus. “This year we have already been told to expect 18 calls by cruise ships at the Ostuferhafen”, he added. Between May and September Kiel’s three big terminal berths are 70 % booked on Saturdays. “German seaports” declared Dirk Claus “already have sufficient terminal capacities to continue to cope with the growing demands of shipping companies.
The 2015 cruise shipping season gets underway on Easter Saturday, April 4th, when “AIDAcara” arrives at the Ostseekai Terminal. The highlight of the year will be the naming of the latest ship to join TUI Cruises, “Mein Schiff 4”, also at Ostseekai. Dirk Claus commented: “We are looking forward to this seasonal highlight. The naming of “Mein Schiff 4” underscores the partner relationship that exists between shipping company and port”. After being named, the maiden voyage of the youngest member of the TUI fleet will take the ship from Kiel into the Baltic. The ships of AIDA Cruises are the most frequent guests of the port this year, calling a total of 36 times. For the first time this year, two AIDA ships – “AIDAcara” and the “AIDAluna” are expected to regularly exchange passengers in Kiel. There will also be a chance to see Cunard Line’s “Queen Elizabeth” again: she will visit the Fiord twice this season. Eleven cruise ships will join festivities marking the annual Kieler Woche regatta between June 20th and 28th, among them the “Sea Cloud 11”. This year’s season closes particularly late - on December 19th. On that day, the third Saturday in Advent, the Phoenix Seereisen cruise ship “Albatros” will visit Kiel.