In terms of vessels, restrictions imposed by the Swedish authorities mean that no vessel longer than 160 metres can access the port, while maximum draught is 10 metres, prompting Johansson to point out that vessels calling tend to be around 6,300dwt.
“Our portfolio of dry bulk commodities is fairly stable at the moment, and we are not actively pursuing any new ones,” he says.
The Port of Kalmar handled 608,005 tonnes of dry bulk last year, which was an increase of 24.5%. This trend has continued into the first quarter of this year, with the port registering a further 19% increase.
Asked what had produced such positive figures, production manager Jonas Petersson attributes the upsurge in traffic to, “Strong economic development in the regional forestry industry, as well as a growing UK market.”
Forestry products, particularly wood chips, are the main drivers of Kalmar’s burgeoning traffic, with around 30% of dry bulk traffic being imported and the remaining 70% outbound, much of which is shipped domestically.
Quizzed as to how much of the existing traffic is “captive” to Kalmar, Petersson says that, as in all business, this is up to the customer. However, there is an agricultural plant located in the port that sucks in imports, amounting to 120,000 tonnes annually.
“At the moment, all of the dry bulk traffic that we handle has to move by road, since our rail link is no longer operational. This is a temporary measure, although its reopening is down entirely to the railway company’s policy,” he says.
As for the type of vessel currently calling at Kalmar, those transporting dry bulk tend to be no larger than 6,000dwt, although Petersson says this very much depends on the receiving or despatching port. Draught is currently restricted to 7.3 metres in the Sound of Kalmar, although the port authority has started a process to increase this to around 11 metres, mainly due to a request from the oil terminal.
Finally, in terms of investment to attract new commodities, he says that there are no plans to do this at the moment. Nevertheless, he stresses that stevedores in the port have become highly specialized in the handling of bulk cargo and all of them are aware of the low value of the goods.
“We therefore seek to minimize any extra costs for the customer, drawing upon our handling experience and customer care,” he says.
The west coast port of Uddevalla reported dry bulk volume amounting to approximately 650,000 tonnes last year, which customer service manager Dag Paulsson says is equivalent to growth of around 20%.
“A lot of that is due to the dollar/kronor exchange rate, while one of our main customers increased the amount of volume they were importing,” he says, adding that 2014 also saw growth in the amount of grain handled.