Ligurian ports plan for increased growth / FOCUS

Genoa - Genoa and Savona diversify markets, La Spezia enlarges docks.

Genoa - In 2019, Liguria’s ports faced a variety of challenges. For the Ports of Genoa (Genoa and Savona), the first part of the year was still marked by the effects of the collapse of the Morandi bridge, effects that gradually faded over subsequent months. For the Port System of Eastern Liguria (La Spezia and Marina di Carrara), the problem is now spatial saturation, which is trying to respond with new infrastructure and increased productivity across the system as a whole. Hence, on the one hand, the signing last May of the plan to enlarge the LSCT-held concession that is Garibaldi wharf, in order to increase the port’s container-handling capacity to 2.5 million TEUs. On the other hand, December’s opening, at Santo Stefano Magra, of the single service centre for port inspections, which will be the first in Italy. In short, while 2019 was not a particularly brilliant year for the two systems in terms of commercial traffic, along the same lines as 2018, it was a period of preparation for future development. On 16 and 17 October, the port of La Spezia will host the logistics forum BiLog, organized in collaboration between the Port System Authority and the Municipality of Piacenza. From the point of view of the latest plans, everyone is currently most excited about the completion of work at Santo Stefano Magra, where the single service centre will enter service in December, which will be set up for inspections by the various governmental bodies in a single post, and will accommodate – amongst other things – refrigerated goods. In May, the Authority and Contship Italy signed an agreement for the enlargement of the Garibaldi wharf. This combined work of dredging and filling in of parts of the Marina del Canaletto, will allow the port of La Spezia to have new areas and deeper channels, and will allow the container terminal to handle about 2.5 million TEUs. In the meantime, work is moving forward on the reorganisation of railway infrastructure, which will make it possible to handle the majority of goods by rail. In 2018, the ports of La Spezia and Marina di Carrara handled a total of 18.276 million tonnes of goods (+0.9% compared to 2017). Containerised traffic amounted to 1.543 million TEUs (+1.15%), almost entirely in La Spezia. In the first half of 2019, container traffic at La Spezia’s LSCT Terminal was 669,000 TEUs (+1.8% over the same period in 2018). A delegation from the Ports of Genoa is currently in China to procure new traffic from the country that is known as the world’s factory. But the organisation’s aim, given uncertainties caused by the ongoing tariff war between China and the United States, is also to diversify its markets connected with Liguria. Silvio Ferrando, who is a member of the Genoese mission to China, explained, “Planning becomes difficult with the introduction of more and more tariffs. In the coming months we will have to deal with commercial risk management. Markets that were calm are no longer so. We need to play at different tables with countries whose economies are strong, like Korea and Australia. Or like Colombia and Brazil: exports from the Brazilian port of Santos to Genoa have grown by 50%. In terms of traffic, the port of Genoa is reabsorbing the effects of the Morandi bridge tragedy. If in the first quarter total traffic was down by 5.6% and container traffic by 5.6%, the figures up to August show an improvement. The tonnage deficit was reduced by -2.5% (from 47.323 to 46.146 million tonnes in the first eight months of 2018 and 2019, respectively), while container traffic actually achieved a positive figure of +0.6% (from 1.804 to 1.815 million TEUs, again in the first eight months).