The Polish Ports 2030 Congress coming soon: a specific, strategic vision of development is needed - an interview with Marek Gróbarczyk -
The Polish Ports 2030 Congress coming soon: a specific, strategic vision of development is needed - an interview with Marek Gróbarczyk
Date of publication: 23.05.2023

Polish ports are becoming a strategic point on the European logistics map. In order to maintain their importance in the era of changing realities, Polish infrastructural policy must constantly evolve. We talk about key investments, the vision of Polish ports in the perspective of 2030 and the need for further discussion on their development with the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure - Marek Gróbarczyk.

Today, Polish ports face completely new challenges. So far, they functioned as one of the sectors of the economy, and now they play the role of key hubs securing Poland in terms of energy, trade in goods, as well as state defense. How should policy influence the ability of ports to carry out these modern, strategic tasks?

The current situation clearly indicates that the ideas that some people once considered oversized have now turned out to be salutary for Poland. Today's role of the Naftoport in Gdańsk, the LNG Terminal in Świnoujście, the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline or the plans to build a floating gas terminal in the Gulf of Gdańsk are the elements that are and will be the basis for the security and proper functioning of the state. The policy promoted by our western neighbors of becoming dependent on Russia – I am referring, of course, to the Nord Stream gas pipelines – has ended in complete failure. Only because we have created an alternative to supplies from Russia, Poland presents itself very well compared to Europe as a diversified country, primarily with secure access to energy-related supplies. The process of port development, maintenance and deepening of access fairways, as well as expansion of port infrastructure and modernization of the existing one - e.g. deepening of the approach fairway to 12.5 meters in Szczecin, reconstruction of the quays in Gdynia or complete modernization of the port in Gdańsk - clearly show that today we are prepared to receive a significant amount of coal and other goods. Poland is becoming the main Central European hub, which is why this process of expansion and modernization must continue.

I think that your idea of organizing the Polish Ports 2030 Congress is an excellent idea. We are very active in this, giving our patronage to actually talk about our ports as much as possible, to promote them and create a very specific, strategic vision of their development.

The investments made so far have confirmed the need for their implementation, and at the same time generate further needs for the future. Poland, dependent on imports of coal, oil and gas by sea, must continue to develop this infrastructure to secure its energy needs in the long term. What projects in this area should be prioritized according to the Ministry?

We have prepared a comprehensive port modernization program. We do not focus only on infrastructure dedicated to the energy sector. It is necessary to meet the needs related to the increase in the volume of transshipments of general cargo and containers. In addition, there is the whole bulk area, not to mention the issue of grain transport from Ukraine, which must be established in permanent connections, and certainly in long-term contracts, which in turn raises the need to build appropriate infrastructure. In addition, there is also the area of offshore wind energy, which will generate huge potential in the expansion of ports. And, of course, the ferry area, which - after the investments in Gdynia and Świnoujście - also has a very large development potential.

The current situation also indicates a huge need for unobstructed access to ports from the land. Do you agree that the development of inland shipping has a huge impact on the efficiency of ports and the entire supply chain? What is your opinion on this issue in the context of today's geopolitics and the needs of the future?

Inland shipping will develop around large port centers, but also, I think, terminal ones in central and central-northern Poland. First of all, it is about those centers that will accumulate the cargo mass. In this way, we will be navigable on the Vistula and the Oder. Today, the Tri-City suffers from frequent traffic jams. I think that it will only deepen, because the transshipment capacity of the ports is constantly increasing. On the other hand, launching the Vistula up to Toruń or Bydgoszcz will secure the access infrastructure to the ports, so that it is passable, which will allow the roads to be cleared, which is also crucial for us.

Returning to projects going out to sea, we have the last decisions regarding the approach fairway and the container terminal in Świnoujście. The topic of the Central Port in Gdańsk and the Outer Pier in Gdynia is back. It seems necessary to build an FSRU terminal in the Gulf of Gdańsk, further expansion of the LNG terminal in Świnoujście, and further investments in the field of transshipment and storage of crude oil. Which of these projects do you consider the most important? What should we talk about in situation of geopolitical tensions and changes that we see at every step?

I am convinced that our strategy should not focus only on selected directions. Our program must be based on comprehensive solutions. The entire area of Poland's product security must also be taken into account. These are products that are already in short supply, and this situation will worsen not only in the case of crude oil, but also petrol and diesel. Not to mention the need to supply components for chemical production, which used to be delivered from the east. Today, they have to be imported from other directions, and the only possible way is by sea. Therefore, chemical, product, grain and gas terminals should be built, which will also be used for regasification, as is already happening in Świnoujście. We assume that the demand for gas will grow, especially in other countries, so the solutions must be comprehensive and cover everything. Added to this is a change in strategy in the area of port expansion. Today, all activities must take place in the waterfront, i.e. going out to sea, with access for large vessels, without depth restrictions.

Recently, a lot has been happening in Szczecin and Świnoujście in the field of offshore winds. Installation terminal, Vestas investments, ST3 Offshore issue solved. It can be said that a center of offshore wind energy is being created there. How will this affect the West Pomeranian region? How will offshore wind affect the development of the entire Pomeranian region?

I believe that the transformation of the Gryfia shipyard in Świnoujście into an offshore port was a great success. The decision to build an installation terminal for offshore winds of the Orlen group has already attracted investors and will certainly attract more. I think this is the right direction, which will benefit the entire West Pomerania. However, offshore wind farms are an opportunity for the entire Polish coast. The project of building the T5 terminal in Gdańsk or creating an installation and service port in Ustka, modernization of most ports on the central coast as strictly service ports - these are the main elements that will enable the entry of a completely new industry, which is offshore wind. Strategic investors have already appeared in these smaller ports. This service, which will be huge - because the target 23 GW is a huge need in terms of equipment, service and, above all, supervision of these installations - is also an opportunity for these small ports. This is the direction that should develop.

Most recent