The Port of Thessaloniki was honored to see its Chairman of the BoD and CEO of ThPA S.A., Mr. Sotirios Theofanis, being nominated as Port Professional of the Month, for the month of April, by the European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO).
The European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO), based in Brussels, was established in 1993 and is the representative body of the seaports of the Member States of the European Union and Norway.
The nomination “Port Professional of the Month” by ESPO aims to promote executives of European ports having an important track record in port management and to present the key points of the strategic development and modernization of the ports they have undertaken.
The Port of Thessaloniki is the main Gateway Port to the Balkans and Southeastern Europe due to its location, its facilities, its spectrum of services and its significant clientele both in Northern Greece and the neighboring countries, stated Mr. Theofanis in an interview that he gave, on the occasion of his nomination as Port Professional of the Month. The interview is available on the website of the European Sea Ports Organization (https://www.espo.be/news/port-pro-of-the-month-sotirios-theofanis).
In the same interview, he mentioned that, according to the traffic of the first quarter, in 2019, container traffic throughput is expected to increase around 450,000 TEUs and conventional cargo throughput is expected to reach 4,500,000 tons, while in 2018 the throughput was 425,000 TEUs and 3,850,000 tons respectively.
With regard to the privatization process of the port of Thessaloniki, which was completed after an international tender and the acquisition of the majority stake of the Company (67%) by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) company South East Gateway Thessaloniki (SEGT) he pointed out that it is, to a certain extent, similar to the model used in a similar case at the port of Singapore. He also highlighted the international and profoundly renewed way of managing and developing the port, which stems from the international experience and the excellent knowledge of business conditions in the Balkans and Southeastern Europe that the new executives of the company have. The company’s strategy has three main components:
- The Port Bound Strategy, focusing on new infrastructure, serving larger ships and implementing a new business philosophy and procedures.
- The Beyond the Port Strategy, focusing on the development of intermodal transport to and from Southeast Europe and the creation of freight centers in strategic areas.
- The Management Strategy, aiming at implementing a lean and effective management model.
He referred to the complexity created by the different regulatory authorities involved in ports and he pointed out that the existence of a separate regulatory authority is necessary not because of the magnitude of the port industry in Greece but because of the multitude number of small ports, especially in the country’s Island Complex.
With regard to future investments, Mr. Theofanis highlighted that the focal point is the expansion of the Container Terminal by 460 meters and with an effective depth of -17.6m. This project is included in the Obligatory Investments undertaken by ThPA S.A. and its completion, which is expected by the end of 2022, will allow the servicing of Super Post New Panamax ships of a capacity of 180,000 TEUs and will increase the capacity of the Container Terminal to 1,300,000 TEUs, thus providing a significant comparative advantage to the Port of Thessaloniki.
Besides these Obligatory Investments, ThPA S.A. is planning to implement two major investments in the Conventional Cargo Terminal, amounting to a total of 120,000,000 euros. These investments concern: The expansion of Quay 24 by 410m (depth -16.5m.), enabling the servicing of Panamax ships and the unification of the 4th and 5th Piers, creating a new deeper Quay of 600m. Completion of these projects is expected to increase the capacity of the Conventional Cargo Terminal to 4,000,000 tons.
The port of Thessaloniki belongs to the Orient-East Med Core Network Corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and, according to Mr. Theofanis, a Mini Land Bridge can be developed towards the port of Burgas at the Black Sea, as well as access to Central Europe. All of the above are within the same spirit that the company has regarding the creation of dry ports in neighboring countries, creating the conditions for the port gate to be open to the new target markets.
Mr. Theofanis referred to the importance, at a global level, for the port industry, but also to the perspective that exists within the framework of the historic project on New Silk Roads, marine and terrestrial, i.e. the well-known “Belt and Road Initiative”. He considers this project to be important for the port of Thessaloniki, since he believes that the location of the port of Thessaloniki is strategic and the investments that will be made will greatly enhance the port’s role in the new conditions that are being shaped.
With regard to the challenges in the sectors of cruise and passenger traffic, Mr. Theofanis referred to the company’s strategy of attracting cruise companies to the port of Thessaloniki, to the cooperation that has begun with the local authorities at local and regional level, but also with the involved professionals in order to develop a “cruise product” that would be appealing to companies. According to him, the key points will be the exploitation of the emblematic building of the Old Customs Office and the development of non-port activities within the harbor.
Mr. Theofanis pointed out that the new investment scheme has a long-term strategic goal to reduce the environmental footprint of the company’s port activities and, in this context, he referred to the unanimous decision of the shareholders to participate in the Green Award Network as an Incentive Provider, offering a 15% discount on port charges to Green Award-certified ships visiting the Port of Thessaloniki.
Finally, he mentioned the implementation of new technologies at the port of Thessaloniki, noting that the executives of ThPA S.A. are following the trends in the field of digitization at global level, while at the same time ThPA S.A. participates in many research projects, regarding the application of new technologies, funded by the European Union. A plan to implement new technologies at the Container Terminal is expected to be drafted in the near future and the company’s immediate plans include the creation of an Innovation Hub for Ports, Freight Transport, and Logistics inside the Port of Thessaloniki.