2015 is an auspicious year for Lithuania’s port and logistics sector: the introduction of the euro is expected to lower cost and increase planning certainty, billions of euro in EU funding will speed up the expansion and upgrade the infrastructure, and a new floating LNG terminal will establish new independence in terms of the country’s gas supply. At the same time, the sector faces major challenges in respect of the prevailing political and economic uncertainties in relation to its most important trading partner Russia, and the SECA guidelines that have been in force since the beginning of the year. Current developments in Lithuania provided an exciting backdrop for a joint information forum in Klaipėda attended by representatives of the three Northern ports of Hamburg, Kiel, and Lübeck. They also open up new areas for intensified future co-operations.
Solid Growth In Lithuania
Despite the highly volatile environment, the EU Commission projects a growth rate of 3.1 per cent for Lithuania in 2015. Over the last four years, exports from Lithuania have more than doubled. The port of Klaipėda plays a vital role in Lithuania’s foreign trade. It is the country’s biggest port, and thanks to its favourable location on the Baltic Sea, it functions as a very important transport hub for Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Moldova. In 2014, more than 450,000 TEU (20-foot standard containers) were handled by Klaipėda – an increase of 23 per cent and a new record for the port. It is anticipated that additional impetus for 2015’s growth will come from EU funding schemes, including the new “Rail Baltica” route between Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania and Poland.
Good Connections To Hamburg
With regular scheduled feeder and shortsea liner services, the port of Klaipėda offers very good connections to and from the Port of Hamburg. In 2014, some 84,000 TEU of seaborne cargo were moved between Hamburg and Klaipėda, including both imports and exports of chemical products, food and luxury goods as well as agricultural and forestry products. The seaport of Kiel also has excellent links with Klaipėda – a ro-ro service for vehicles and other rolling cargo has been in operation between the two ports for over 22 years now. Port of Lübeck operator Lübecker Hafengesellschaft is currently in talks with prospective partners about establishing a regular service between Lübeck and Klaipėda.
First Networking Event Hosted By Hafen Hamburg Marketing
Working together with the Klaipėda State Seaport Authority and the Association of Lithuanian Stevedoring Companies, Port of Hamburg Marketing hosted an inaugural information and networking event in Klaipėda on 5/6 March. The event also included a tour of Lithuania’s biggest port. Among the 150 guests were the key protagonists in Lithuania’s port and transport-related industries as well as representatives from the ports of Hamburg, Kiel and Lübeck, who have been maintaining good relationships with the port of Klaipėda for many years. Having three German partner port representatives visiting in Klaipėda at the same time was a first.
Discussions And Panels
The participants were welcomed by the hosts and by the Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany in Klaipėda, Dr. Arūnas Baublys, as well as the Mayor of the City of Klaipėda, Vytautas Grubliauskas. The keynote speeches from the representatives of the ports of Hamburg, Kiel and Lübeck, addressing matters such as the efficiency and environmental compatibility of ports, intermodal hinterland networks and the challenges looming ahead, were complemented with a panel discussion, including experts from Lithuania. The moderator for the event and for the panel discussion was Marina Rimpo, who heads the “Market Development Baltic Sea Region” division of Port of Hamburg Marketing and closely monitors developments and challenges in what represents an important market region for the Port of Hamburg.
Lithuania’s First LNG Terminal
The next day, the Lithuanian hosts invited the participants to attend presentations on plans for developing their port, to a harbour cruise, and to a general exchange of information. During the harbour cruise the guests from Germany were particularly impressed by the floating LNG terminal. “Independence” is the name given to the first LNG terminal in the Baltic Region. The terminal, which will boost the country’s security of supply, was commissioned in early 2015. Initially it will receive deliveries of liquid gas from the Norwegian company Statoil. Talks with other suppliers are already under way. The Klaipeda State Seaport Authority also has plans for providing bunkering of ships in port with LNG, as a further contribution to environmental compatibility.
More Help From Germany“Our partners in Lithuania are hoping for more support from partners in Germany both at the political and economic level. I am very pleased that our first event has set the stage for a further intensification in our co-operation,” said Marina Rimpo in summing up after the event. him
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