The Polish Ports 2030 Congress in June - invitation and patronage of the Ministry of Infrastructure -
The Polish Ports 2030 Congress in June - invitation and patronage of the Ministry of Infrastructure
Date of publication: 05.05.2023

On June 1-2, at the Radisson Blu hotel in Sopot, the Polish Ports 2030 Congress will take place. It will be the first nationwide conference focused entirely on the seaports sector. Over 300 participants, 50 experts, 10 thematic panels, presentations, lectures, the presence of representatives of the most important companies and institutions is expected. Let's meet and discuss the future and directions of development of Polish ports. ONLINE REGISTRATION

The honorary patronage over the conference was taken by the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the Polish Press Agency is the main media patron. The strategic partners of the conference are the Port of Gdańsk Authority, the Port of Gdynia Authority and Państwowe Gospodarstwo Wodne Wody Polskie. The organizer of the Congress is the publisher of the portal.

On the wave of growth

In recent years, seaports have been one of the fastest growing sectors of the Polish economy. The scale of the increases is best illustrated by the numbers. In 2012, Polish ports handled a total of 63.974 million tonnes, and in 2022 it was 133.2 million tonnes.

The results of individual ports are equally impressive. In 2012, the Port of Gdańsk handled 26.9 million tonnes, in 2022 as much as 68.2 million tonnes. Transshipments at the Port of Gdynia increased from 15.8 million tons in 2012 to 28.2 million tons in 2022. The Szczecin and Świnoujście port complex handled 21.3 million tons in 2012, and 36.8 million tons ten years later.

At the same time, in a dozen or so years, Poland has become a leader in transshipment of containers on the Baltic Sea, and the Port of Gdańsk has become a regional hub with the most important ocean connections. The dynamic growth in this sector was decisive in the expansion of the Baltic Hub terminal in Gdańsk. Currently, the construction of the T3 terminal is underway, which will increase the reloading capacity of the Baltic Hub to 4.5 million TEU per year.

The BCT and GCT container terminals in Gdynia have also significantly increased their capacity and transshipment results in recent years. The construction of a deep-water container terminal in Świnoujście is also announced. It has a chance to become the second largest force on the Polish coast in the transshipment of containerized cargo after Gdańsk. In recent weeks, the Ministry of Infrastructure has announced investment plans for the construction of an external port. The construction is to cost over PLN 10 billion and will include a number of elements - in addition to the aforementioned container terminal with a capacity of 2 million TEU per year, also e.g. approach fairway and breakwater.

Ports as a gateway to the security and future of the Polish energy sector

The increase in importance and role of Polish ports is not determined only by numbers. 10 years ago, the dependence of the Polish energy system on ports was marginal. Today, most energy resources are delivered to Poland by sea. This is evidenced, among others, by records of fuel handling at the Naftoport in Gdańsk or the fuel terminal at the Port of Gdynia, and investments in the PERN fuel depot at the Northern Port in Gdańsk and in Dębogórze in Gdynia. This is also evidenced by the success and further expansion of the LNG terminal in Świnoujście, the construction of the Baltic Pipe, the plan to build the FSRU terminal in the Gulf of Gdańsk, the construction of a small-scale LNG transshipment terminal at the back of the Gdańsk Refinery, and finally the decision to build an installation terminal for offshore wind farms in Świnoujście. Hardly anyone foresaw such a scale of investments and such a dynamic development aimed precisely at seaports.

In the reality of the war in Ukraine and Poland being cut off from energy resources from Russia, some port terminals had to adapt to new needs quite quickly, primarily to increased coal imports, but they managed to do it very smoothly. What's more, this type of cargo appeared even occasionally in smaller ports, so far focused on fishing and tourism.

Investments of recent years as a rescue against a deep crisis

The development of ports was not possible without a number of key investments carried out in recent years by Maritime Offices, sea ports authorities, railway and road companies. Multi-billion projects have ensured Poland's security of supply in critical moments recently. Port basins and fairways are systematically deepened so that larger ships can enter them. New quays and terminals have appeared, and the existing ones are being modernized to handle ever larger vessels. Modern reloading equipment is working on the quays themselves.

The surroundings of the ports themselves are also developing. Warehouses and maneuvering and transshipment yards, parking lots and logistics valleys are growing.

However, port development alone is not enough. It must also be accompanied by the expansion and improvement of the possibility of delivering cargo to the quay and evacuating it into the interior of the country. Huge investments in railway infrastructure in the hinterland of ports are being completed by PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe. Thanks to them, more goods can now be delivered to and collected from ships by trains, but this is also only part of the way - intermodal transport requires further implementations, some of which are already planned. Extremely important road investments have also started, which may completely change the functioning of port cities. First of all, design work on the so-called Red Road in Gdynia, which is to be the main route to the port for heavy vehicles. Also in Gdańsk, Szczecin and Świnoujście, local governments and the state are implementing further plans to give the ports the ability to handle as many loads as possible imported and exported by trucks without unnecessary traffic jams in cities.

Port investments are not limited to Gdańsk, Gdynia, Szczecin and Świnoujście. Smaller ports on the Polish coast are also developing, for which offshore wind may become an important factor. It has already been announced that service bases for Polish wind farms will appear in Łeba and Ustka. Other ports also hope that ships working on the construction and operation of wind farms in the Baltic Sea will be frequent guests.

One of the most famous investments in recent years in the maritime sector was the channel through the Vistula Spit together with the construction of a fairway leading from the Gulf of Gdańsk to the Vistula Lagoon and further along the Elbląg River to the Port of Elbląg. Port of Elbląg, in turn, is seen as a port that can benefit the most from these changes and develop very strongly in the coming years. However, there are currently obstacles such as legal and administrative disputes. This does not change the fact that the eyes of a large part of the maritime industry are increasingly turned towards the Elbląg Port Authority.

All these threads - energy security, supply chains, emphasis on ecological solutions in ports and shipping, and many others - combine in the concept of a smart ports, towards which port and terminal managers are increasingly looking. Digitalization of maritime transport is no longer science fiction, but has become a reality. It already brings clear benefits in the safety, quality and speed of handling vessels and cargo. However, it also raises new challenges, such as the need to protect against more and more frequent cyberattacks.

Inland shipping

The condition of this sector is best illustrated by a comparison: inland navigation in the Netherlands in 2022 is 370 million tons of cargo and nearly 5,000 vessels and an increase of 6 percent, while in Poland in 2022 it is only 3.6 million tonnes and a decrease of over 13%. At the same time, the age of almost all our vessels exceeds 45 years. Thus, inland waterway transport in Poland, which had been neglected for years, was caught between ideas and plans and environmental regulations and restrictions.

However, the economic calculation and experience of other European countries, as well as our own, show that this transport sector can be both effective, profitable and ecological. It needs to be built practically from scratch. It is necessary to clear Polish rivers and prepare the infrastructure that will be able to handle modern, ecological vessels using clean, emission-free fuels.

Big projects move deep into the sea

Access to new technologies and possibilities in the construction industry, ever-larger ships and the amount of cargo, as well as the dynamic development of cities mean that the largest ports have to go to sea. This can be seen in the development directions of such ports as Rotterdam, which is building its Maasvlakte, or Anwerp. The momentum and far-reaching vision have always increased the potential of ports. Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski and Tadeusz Wenda knew this already 100 years ago, guaranteeing Gdynia decades of growth. Another large port project, i.e. Port Północny (Northern Port) in Gdańsk, had to wait until the 1970s and is still the largest raw material hub on the Polish coast. Once again, the Australians reminded us of the port's potential, building a container terminal on the beach in Stogi district in Gdańsk several years ago. How many skeptics and doubters there were! Today, the Baltic Hub is the largest container terminal and transport hub in the Baltic Sea. A few years ago, the LNG Terminal in Świnoujście was commissioned. The project also had plenty of enemies. Currently, deliveries of gas, oil, coal and other raw materials through Polish ports are saving Poland from a deep energy crisis.

Polish ports in 2030

It is time to once again look far into the future and far out to sea. The economic and geopolitical situation leave no doubt. It's time to implement more great projects. Central Port in Gdansk. The Outer Port in Gdynia, the Terminal in Świnoujście, the Port in Ustka, the construction of the FSRU terminal on the Gulf of Gdańsk - each of these projects has its own potential and its conditions, and we will also discuss them during the upcoming Congress.

In 2030, Polish ports will look completely different. Regardless of political and economic changes, some significant elements of evolution cannot be stopped. Together with the whole world, we have entered the path of ecology and digitalization, for which the foundations are not only legal regulations, but also - and perhaps above all - sustainable development and energy transformation.

Polish ports, both those of strategic importance for the state's economy and those smaller, administered by local governments, stand before a great opportunity. There are many perspectives and new possibilities. How to make the best use of them? Which of them are the most interesting and have the greatest potential? How to prepare not only for the coming years, but also decades? Experts and practitioners will discuss all this during the first Polish Ports 2030 Congress. The Congress will indicate the most important problems that we will have to face, but above all, it will set the most important development directions and show how the maritime economy and the country's economy based on the functioning of ports will function in 2030.

It is worth being part of this discussion and the most important port event in Poland to be able to actively participate in creating the most important ideas for our economy.


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