Port of Gothenburg Gets EU Green Light for Fairway Deepening

December 13, 2023

(Photo: Port of Gothenburg)
(Photo: Port of Gothenburg)

With preliminary studies, risk analyses, simulations, environmental permits and other types of preparatory work already completed, the final obstacle has now been overcome to kick-start the Skandia Gateway project. This is via approval from the EU Commission, which confirms that state funding for a Port of Gothenburg fairway deepening does not constitute state aid.

Following the EU Commission's announcement, the Gothenburg Port Authority could, on Thursday afternoon, activate the previously prepared agreement with NCC concerning the quay reinforcement part of the massive infrastructure project, Skandia Gateway. Next, a project organization will be formed, and offices will be established adjacent to the Port of Gothenburg container terminal ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for February 2024.

"The stage has been set for a long time, and it is with great confidence that we can now press the button and proceed with this project, which is so crucial for the competitiveness of Swedish industry. It is high time that we get started," says Göran Eriksson, CEO of the Gothenburg Port Authority.

Direct shipping without transshipment across the world's oceans to and from the Port of Gothenburg is a vital prerequisite for the Swedish industry to reach global markets efficiently in terms of both climate and cost. However, as the largest vessels have become increasingly larger, a deeper fairway in the port is consequently required. Over 15 years, the capacity of container ships has increased by 50 percent, and today, the largest ships can only enter the Port of Gothenburg half-loaded. Meanwhile, shipping companies are envisioning even larger vessels.

"But this is not about the port's raison d'être, but about ensuring that we continue to serve Swedish industry in the future. The current fairway depth is already a limitation as shipping companies are restricted in their choice of route to reach Gothenburg. With the fairway deepening, the largest vessels can enter fully loaded in the future, which in turn provides flexibility in existing traffic. It's a climate aspect in itself, while the port becomes interesting in even more line setups," says Göran Eriksson.

Skandia Gateway is a collaborative project where the Gothenburg Port Authority is responsible for quay reinforcement measures in the container terminal, while the Swedish Maritime Administration is responsible for measures in the fairway. Initially, 700 meters of quay will be reinforced. This is a prerequisite for the quay to be ready to accommodate larger vessels than possible today, and for the Swedish Maritime Administration to start dredging work in a 5-kilometer stretch of the fairway, where 11 million cubic meters of clay will be excavated.

"The EU's decision gives us the opportunity to continue working on Skandia Gateway to achieve the joint goal of completion by 2027/2028 for the Swedish Maritime Administration and the Gothenburg Port Authority. For the Swedish Maritime Administration, we are working on procuring a contractor for fairway measures, aiming to commence dredging work after the summer of 2026," says Jenny Röström, project manager at the Swedish Maritime Administration.

Fact file: Skandia Gateway Project - fairway feepening in the Port of Gothenburg
Planned deepening: From 13.5 up to a maximum of 17.5 meters of ship draft.
Designating vessel: Length 430 m, width 65 m, and a draft of 17.5 m.
Budget: SEK 2.8 billion (2017 cost level), of which the Gothenburg Port Authority (Gothenburg Municipality) contributes SEK 1.25 billion. The Gothenburg Port Authority has previously also received EU support for parts of the planning through the Connecting Europe Facilities fund.
Dredging requirement: Approximately 11 million cubic meters.
Timeline: Commencement of quay reinforcement: Feb-March 2024. Fairway dredging work: Q3 2026.
Completion: Q4 2027/Q1 2028.

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