Szkuner. "Offshore will fill the fishermen's gap in Władysławowo" [INTERVIEW] -
Szkuner. "Offshore will fill the fishermen's gap in Władysławowo" [INTERVIEW]
Date of publication: 19.09.2022

We are alking about preparations for the construction of a service base for the Ocean Winds farm, the prospects that offshore will create for the city, as well as the necessary investments for the development of the port with Witold Wawrzonkoski, president of the company Szkuner, which manages the port in Władysławowo.

Anna Konopka: It has been known since May that the port in Władysławowo will be the service base for the Ocean Winds wind farm. This Spanish-French company will implement the BC-Wind project in the Baltic Sea. Can you already feel in the city that a new chapter, industry and opportunities are opening?

Witold Wawrzonkoski: The topic has been evoking positive emotions for some time, and I am a great optimist in this regard. The BC-Wind project will be divided into two adjacent areas called B and C. The farms will be located approximately 23 kilometers north of Choczewo and will occupy an area of approximately 90 square kilometers. Plans provide for the construction of up to 31 turbines there.

However, it is the service base that will be the logistic heart of this future-oriented investment for the region. What are the preparations for construction like?

Although we have already signed the contract for the construction of a service port with Ocean Winds, the official approval must be given by the Ministry of Infrastructure. Cases are pending. So far, we have submitted an application to the ministry, we already have a positive opinion of the Maritime Office. Now we are waiting for a decision.

When can we expect it?

Projects of this type involve a long administrative journey. I do not expect a refusal, because all the positive aspects are on our side, it is rather a pure formality. After receiving the approval of the minister, we sign a final lease / tenancy agreement with Ocean Winds for 35 years with an option to extend. Then we can talk about the final seal of the construction of the service port in Władysławowo.

You say that the positive aspects are on the side of Władysławowo. What conditions are particularly favorable?

Considering Łeba and Ustka, we are distinguished by the safest approach to the port. The Baltic Sea is dominated by western and north-western winds, and Władysławowo is naturally sheltered by Cape Rozewie, so its favorable geographical location means that it is protected against most strong winds. This, in turn, enables planning of activities and operational certainty. One hour of wind turbine stoppage translates into huge financial losses, which is why the reaction time is so important and it ensures the certainty of leaving the Port.

How will the service base change the face of the port?

Currently, we are talking about several thousand square meters under the onshore part and a 60-meter long quay, where - like taxis - CTV units belonging to the wind farm operator are to run. These are ships dedicated to transporting people and the necessary tools for operating and servicing the farm.

And how many such CTVs will work between the farm and the service base?
Ocean Winds is currently talking about two vessels - each over 20 meters long, 6-11 meters wide. A crane with a load capacity of 2-3 tons is to be installed in the port for easy loading and unloading.

What exactly will be in the service base?

In the land part, there will be an office, a warehouse, a social part and perhaps a hotel part, but it depends on the operator, because we have an abundance of accommodation in the Władysławowo commune.

Are Władysławowo and the port ready for all these changes?

It should be noted here that Ustka and Łeba have been preparing for the construction of farms for about a decade. Remember that Polish offshore wind farms were to be built in 2015-2016, but their construction was temporarily suspended. Already at the time when I became the president of Szkuner in 2018, I was convinced that offshore for Władysławowo is an opportunity that cannot be missed. I was not much wrong. It is already happening. The first agreement signed with Ocean Winds is a breakthrough. But that's not all.

Since last year, we have had a contract for the lease of premises and land with N-Sea Polska providing services to developers at various stages, including research, construction, maintenance. After all, we know that there will be more concessions and more developers who will be looking for a place for their activities. In many ways, Władysławowo fits their needs perfectly.

I hope that after the new year we will start talks on the location of another offshore base. And the developers will be followed by other service companies. So I can say that today we are prepared to operate from the port in many fields.

When can you expect the first steps to build a service base?

At the beginning of 2025, the operator takes over the lease. The turn of 2025 and 2026 is the time for serious attempts to start building farms, so these activities must overlap. It's not that nothing will happen until then. In order for the construction to start without delays, the developer is awaiting huge organizational and legal work. All this is already happening, although it may not be visible to the naked eye.

You have a great appetite for offshore, but it is related to the port's development in other directions as well. Which are the most important?

The port is one of the five core activities for Szkuner. This is actually our most visible action. In the last few years, the port itself has not changed as much as I would actually like. Currently, one budget perspective in the EU is ending and the other is beginning. We prepare projects to be able to participate in all possible calls for funding applications.

At the turn of the year, it will probably be possible to apply for fisheries funds, which also include money for ports. This includes refurbishment and modernization of quays and fishermen-related infrastructure. For this purpose, we conduct research and determine the demand. We are counting on the use of these funds.

Another important area for us is the development of tourism, for which money can be obtained from the marshal. We would like to expand our marina to European standards. Today, 12 vessels can moor here, we dream of a place for 57. Additionally, piers, quays renovation and construction of a social part.

Lotos Petrobaltic has oil and gas production platforms at the level of Władysławowo. How does the port's cooperation with the operator look like?

We have actually been cooperating for many years. The vessels that are able to enter us regularly use the Port of Władysławowo. We would love Lotos Petrobaltic to have a larger, permanent base with us. For various reasons, we are currently unable to do so. It is no secret that this company would like to become a national operator of maritime services for wind farm operators. In a situation where these plans succeed, we obviously want Petrobaltic to use Władysławowo as much as possible.

What investments will make the port more competitive and enable cooperation on a larger scale with a giant such as Lotos Petrobaltic?

The port to the east needs to be developed. For this purpose, we need approximately PLN 600 million. We have prepared the development concept, but the source of financing is of key importance, and the Port of Władysławowo was not originally included in the National Reconstruction Plan. We want to lobby for this purpose in Warsaw.

What will change after the expansion?

It would be necessary to build a breakwater, road access from the east (a new junction on the Władysławowo-Hel road and from there to the port). The port can be built in stages, but the quay on today's beach and the storage yard on the eastern side of today's eastern quay would be of key importance. The fairway deepened to 9 meters would allow vessels with a draft of 7-8 meters and a length of 120-150 meters to enter the port.

We don't just think about offshore itself anymore. After such extensions, the port would also be well prepared for transshipment activities.

What is the public perception of the transformations that await Władysławowo and its port? Are people already thinking about the job opportunities offered by the farm service base?

The trend is that there is a shortage of people for work. Nevertheless, I am glad that the personnel training programs are already being prepared. This process is already engaged in, among others, Gdynia Maritime University, Gdańsk University of Technology, local authorities. What is certain is that we will have well-paid and year-round jobs, but they will require high qualifications.

Remember that Władysławowo Port is primarily a fishing port. For the last three years, recreational fishing, or angling, vessels in this port are mostly standing, they do not go to the sea, so people have no jobs. We do not know if the fishing business is in a temporary stagnation, but we also do not know whether it will be possible to recreate in some future. Moreover, we are faced with designing a new budget from the fisheries funds, where a large part of the money will be allocated to the scrapping of commercial fishing vessels. So it is a fact that some fishermen will leave the profession.

Can fishermen think about working in offshore today?

Surely, after proper preparation, they can think about it. They know work at sea and the conditions associated with it, but offshore also brings other challenges. I think that we are in Władysławowo at the stage of significant transformations, and offshore will certainly fill the gap left by the shrinking fishing business to some extent.

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