Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Portugal banks on ro-ro services to strengthen its links to Europe

Written by Marie-Line Darcy, in LISBON on Friday, April 24th 2015 à 09:14 | Read 1128 times



The port of Leixões near Porto hopes to become less peripheral in Europe by developing ro-ro services thanks to a 26m-long ramp and a 310m-long quay.

Port of Leixões (photo APDL)
Port of Leixões (photo APDL)
PORTUGAL. Portugal’s geographical position in Europe is a double-edged sword. It has the advantage of offering 900km of coast facing the Atlantic Ocean, but it puts the country at a considerable distance from the strategic and economic hub in Northern Europe.

Portugal can’t turn its back on the Atlantic corridor, which also relies on Spain, France and Germany. The country must therefore negotiate with the Central European block to access these markets. Portugal is perfectly positioned to focus on maritime transport and develop its hinterland with road and rail connections,” says José Laranjeira Anselmo, Director of Mobility and Transport at the European Commission.

Lisbon has responded accordingly and presented a €6 billion investment programme. A large part of this investment is allocated to the maritime port sector (25%) in second place after the rail industry (45%).

A 438% rise in ro-ro traffic

The Port of Leixões (near Porto) has been quick to strengthen its links with Europe, banking on a number of factors including ro-ro services. “We saw a 438% rise in this type of traffic between 2013 and 2014. We transported 404,650 tonnes compared to 75,171 last year. This has made us more confident in our ro-ro development strategy,” explains Borgueira Dias, the President of the Leixões Port Administration Council. This spectacular growth is the result of converting a lo-lo ship owned by Cobelfretferries to ro-ro. The shipowner also operates a terminal in Botlek in Rotterdam.

Some of the traffic received by Leixões flows into the neighbouring port of Viana de Castelo, whose administration has just been merged with the larger port in Porto. Leixões also has a multipurpose terminal, equipped with a 26m-long ro-ro ramp, a 310m-long quay and a 150m-long perpendicular quay.

This is essentially about short circuit shipping. The multipurpose terminal is considered a key part of the “Motorways of the Sea” strategy and has been developed to include eight hectares of platform. Leixões is particularly focused on the potential for expansion of its hinterland at European level, and is now developing its logistics platform further (phase 2). €180 million has been invested in these works, which should be completed in 2017.

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