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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » January 27, 2011
Australia in Poland
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Calling All Ships
January 27, 2011   
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Boris Wenzel, CEO of Deepwater Container Terminal Gdansk, talks to Ewa Hancock.

What is the connection between Deepwater Container Terminal Gdansk (DCT) and Australia?
DCT Gdansk represents a total investment in excess of 200 million euros so far that has been 100 percent funded by Australian pension funds managed by entities from the Macquarie group, an Australian banking group. Unlike other major marine infrastructure projects in Europe, DCT Gdansk did not receive any Polish state or EU subsidies for its development; even connecting infrastructure to DCT (roads and rail) was developed using the same private funding sources.

DCT Gdansk is now the fastest growing terminal in Poland. What is the key to this success?
The investment in DCT Gdansk was based on an important premise: that as the first deep-sea facility in the eastern Baltic Sea, it will trigger the creation of a new deep-sea shipping market in the Baltic Sea and attract ocean mainliners that traditionally ended their route in one of the German or Benelux ports while the Baltic Sea destinations were mostly served by smaller feeder vessels. In January 2010, a little over two years after its launch, DCT Gdansk succeeded in convincing the world’s largest container shipping line, Maersk Line, to extend the route of one of its Asia-Europe services and to skip German and Benelux ports to call DCT directly.

By bringing 8,000 TEU vessels to Gdańsk on a weekly basis, Maersk Line has gained a considerable advantage over all its competitors: it has lowered its unit operating cost significantly, as it stopped transhipping Polish imports and exports at expensive German or Benelux ports to smaller vessels with higher unit operating costs. The result of this is that DCT Gdansk has triggered a Baltic revolution as all the shipping line market is now forced to lower its operating cost and to look at bringing larger vessels into the Baltic Sea to remain competitive.

In 2010, DCT grew 180 percent, and since September 2010, DCT has become the main gateway for imports and exports to/from Poland, overtaking the Port of Gdynia, which counts two feeder terminals and always held the leadership since the beginning of containerization.

Going forward DCT retains a crucial advantage: it is the only facility east of Denmark that is able to cater for 8,000 TEU and above vessels. While other ports in Poland and the Baltic Sea are scrambling to find ways to be attractive to deep-sea liners, city ports like Gdynia, which suffer from city congestion, inability to expand and a shallow access channel, will never be able to provide deep-sea capabilities and scale to the standard that is required by the lines. Other non-Polish ports in the Baltic states or in Scandinavia do not regroup the advantages of DCT Gdansk: directly serving Poland, which is one of the largest and fastest growing markets and a natural gateway to the whole of Central Europe.

What countries other than Poland are served by DCT Gdansk?
The ability of DCT to service large ocean liners provides the opportunity for lines to use its facility not only to handle Polish origin-destination cargo, but also to receive all non-Polish cargo for other destinations in the Baltic Sea. This is the other leg of the Baltic revolution: the monopoly of Northern European ports in German and Benelux ports to serve as large hubs for the Baltic sea is over, and for the first time, a Baltic Sea port is becoming the hub for the Baltic Sea region.

At present the weekly direct call from Asia to DCT Gdansk discharges Polish, Russian and Finnish cargo, and feeder vessels now depart from DCT to redistribute the Russian and Finnish cargo to their final destination. However, this is just the beginning: given the exceptional location of Gdańsk, it is best suited to service any Baltic destination.
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