Focusing on the long-term prospects of the shipping industry and not on the dim picture of the past couple of months, the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) is pushing ahead a broad investment programme worth approximately 500 million euros, which will see the port emerging as a new transshipment hub for the broader East Mediterranean region.
‘In a speech handed out yesterday, OLP’s CEO, Nikos Anastasopoulos commented on the board’s decision to approve this project, as well as the concession agreement signed with Cosco Pacific Singapore, which will take control of container piers II and III. As for container pier I, Mr. Anastasopoulos said that the terminal will increase its handling capacity to 1.1 million TEUs annually, an investment of 160 million euros. Further to that, pier II will see investments of 320 million euros, undertaken by Cosco. All together, the port is expected to more than triple its annual capacity from 1.5 million TEUs today, to about 4.7 million TEUs by the year 2015. At the same time, there is at least one major guaranteed client, which is of course the Cosco Group and its affiliates. The rail link which is to be completed soon will also help to make the port as a full transshipment hub, capable of competing for the cargoes of the Black Sea, said Mr. Anastasopoulos. He went on to give some details about the relative investments, already undertaken on in progress, by competing ports in the region. Port Said has increased its capacity by 2 million TEUs, Damietta by 2.8 million TEUs, Marsaxlokk by 1 million TEUs and Israel’s port of Haifa, also by 1 million TEUs, not to mention the neighboring ports of Turkey, which are also on the hunt for Black Sea cargoes.