Sweden’s Port of Gothenburg revealed the results of its 2020 operations and reported that container volumes for the year recorded a slight increase despite the global pandemic
Gothenburg Port Authority chief executive Elvir Dzanic said the port has remained relatively unscathed despite the global economic slowdown. Back in February 2020, measures were taken to keep the port open and free from disruption with a focus on meeting the new conditions generated by the pandemic and to do so rapidly and effectively.
As the largest port in the Nordic region, 30% of Swedish foreign trade passes through the Port of Gothenburg including half of all container traffic. And it was the container segment that proved most successful in 2020.
The port’s short-term measures included a focus on operational aspects, such as access to empty containers at a time where there was a widespread shortage of containers in many parts of the world. In addition, Mr Dzanic said “We also made sure interim storage capacity was available, and we guaranteed full, uninterrupted functionality throughout the port.”
Terminal operator APM Terminals Gothenburg saw significant growth despite the pandemic as cargo flows increasingly shifted from Sweden’s east coast towards its west coast (where Gothernburg is located) and from the smaller ports to larger ports. According to the Port of Gothernburg, container volumes at the port rose by almost 1% in stark contrast to the rest of the Swedish market, which fell by 2%.
APM Terminals Nordic managing director Dennis Olesen said “Faced with the challenges presented by the global pandemic, we still managed to operate feeder traffic and weekly direct services to Asia without disruption. We have invested heavily in reducing our climate footprint at the terminal, and by the end of the year we were able to report an 88% decrease in carbon emissions and 100% fossil-free container handling.”
The port’s long-term focus was to ensure development plans did not lose momentum. The port has a multi-year investment programme, which during 2020 included key milestones in the fairway deepening project (Skandia Gateway) and establishing the new Arendal 2 terminal. The Svea Terminal, a new rail-linked transhipment terminal, was also brought into operation. During the latter half of 2020 the port embarked on a complete digital transformation with the aim of enhancing freight visibility.
Mr Dzanic said “We strengthened our balance sheet during the year in various ways, including a reduction in future borrowing requirements. This has allowed us to continue investing in climate initiatives, digitalisation, and other areas of value to the customer. These will in the future ensure freight can be transported even more efficiently and with greater consideration given to the environment.”
Given the halt in passenger ship operations, the sector hardest hit was passenger traffic with cruise operations ceasing almost immediately. Cruise ship calls in 2020 stood at 11, down 81% from 2019.
Ferry traffic was impacted significantly by travel restrictions, resulting in a substantial fall in passenger numbers. However intra-European roro traffic entered 2021 with an upturn of 7% in Q4 2020.
In the energy segment, the year got off to a strong start with high volumes and the low price of crude oil in Q2 2020 meant that production could be increased, and stocks were replenished. The Port reported that H2 2020 was marked by a fall in demand for aviation fuel and other transport fuels as a result of Covid-19.
New car sales in Sweden fell by 18% during the year and the global market generally followed the same pattern. Volumes at the Port of Gothenburg have declined by 15% over the past 12 months with the biggest contributing factor being the halt in production of Volvo vehicles in Q2 2020.