Oslo, Pori and Grenaa retain position as important Scandinavian dry bulk ports 

The Norwegian Port of Oslo handled 1.8mt (million tonnes) of dry bulk in 2016, which was an increase of 10.3% over 2015. According to Carl Johan Hatteland, the port’s business development advisor, a large part of the growth came from increased construction activity in and around Oslo, driving up volumes of the raw materials needed for the production of such commodities as concrete and asphalt.

“The port’s main dry bulk commodities are salt, grain, cement, various grades of gravel (used to make concrete, asphalt and other construction works), scrap and RDF,” says Hatteland.

Inbound consignments for hinterland use arrive by sea, while some dry bulk does also come into the port by road for despatch by vessel.

Dry bulk vessels vary from 120,00dwt to 10,000dwt. Size is relatively stable, serving the same main customers and end user segments.

Hatteland explains that the port is pulling out of certain existing areas, which will instead be used for urban development. At the same time, as the city grows, more and more raw materials are being brought in by sea. Those companies active in the construction industry are therefore very keen to establish themselves in the port, both to allow them to increase their use of facilities there to bring in raw materials and to ensure they have a base in the city.

“There is also a considerable move within the construction industry towards a ‘green shift’. From an industry perspective, this makes it legitimate to invest in very space efficient facilities. However, this is also somewhat controversial, since it puts into question what activities should be in ports. Space in ports is limited, although in Oslo there is capacity for further growth as areas of the port are restructured.”

Asked about external restraints on the handling of dry bulk commodities, Hatteland notes that environmental legislation — and the ambitions behind it — is, in fact, a main driver for growth, but the kind of activity and products related to the construction industry are not always easy to handle in respect of how they look, the noise generated whilst handling them, and also dust issues, even when these fall within what legislation and regulation requires.

“Inevitably, there are issues with ‘not in my back yard’ from local residents,” he says.

Despite this, around 50–60% of concrete supplied to the Oslo market comes from the port, based on raw materials supplied by sea. In addition, 15–20% of the asphalt is also made in the port. Indeed,

Hatteland suggests that, “There is considerable scope for increased market share in asphalt.”

As for other added value, salt is also bagged, while there are several initiatives to sort and process construction and bio-waste to increase reuse/circulation of materials through adding/purifying value. Again, the ‘green shift’ is predominantly a driver behind port growth and for greater use of sea transport.

Finally, in respect of 2017, he predicts that there will not be much further growth in the dry bulk sector, but there are underlying drivers to ensure substantial growth over the next few years.

In 2016, the Finnish Port of Pori reported dry bulk traffic down around 150,000 tonnes to 1.2mt. According to spokesperson Pekka Friman, the port authority is not expecting any dramatic changes in tonnage handled during the current year.

Pori mainly handles coal, which saw a drop of approximately 10% last year.

Consignments on the landside are moved by both road and rail, but not inland waterway, since the port does not have a connection. Coal, while mostly moved by conveyor, is also shifted by road haulage vehicles and shovel loaders.

Vessels transporting shipments can vary between 4,000dwt and 170,000dwt.

Friman notes that changes have had to be made to operations in recent years because of environmental legislation, which has meant that dust emissions have had to be controlled.

No added value is undertaken on the coal whilst it is in the port.

Coal handling at the port takes place at the Tahkoluoto deep- water harbour, where draught of up to 15.3 metres means that Capesize vessels can be accommodated. A shiploader which has a capacity of up to 1,200tph (tonnes per hour) is available; this mainly handles ferrous sulphate, and Ferrix. In addition, the portal cranes can discharge consignments at approximately 2,000tph, although these figures depend on the type of goods. In addition, the deep-water harbour is well-equipped for bulk goods transshipment operations, too.

The quay is 450 metres in length, with one 40-tonne and one 32-tonne crane deployed. These are used for coal and ilmenite loading and unloading.

A total of 9,500m2 of warehousing facilities is also provided, while a 5km-long overland conveyor moves coal on the quay to the adjacent Fortum Power and Heat Ltd’s power plant.

Friman explains that Fortum is not the only client handling coal in the port. SSAB also manages some transhipment consignments of this commodity, he says.

In fact,Tahkoluoto harbour is divided into two separate berths: one of 140 metres, with 10 metres of draught alongside,

and the other of 450 metres, where maximum draught is available. Currently, the port authority is looking for potential new clients to operate at the shorter and shallower berth, which he says is extremely suitable for all types of cargo, including dry bulk.

The Danish Port of Grenaa has decided that its future strategy should be to concentrate more on what it is good at. “We should not just grow; we need to grow by doing more of what we’re really good at,” said Henrik Carstensen, CEO at

Port of Grenaa, summoning up the new policy. “We need to decide: What are we good at? What do we want to achieve? And what do we need to do to achieve it?”

The strategy aims to secure the port’s position as one of the ten most important ports in Denmark by 2020. By enhancing focus, Carstensen hopes the Port of Grenaa’s plan will ensure constant development and growth up until the end of the decade.

“The port should not just grow, but should manage that growth by focusing on the unique strengths we have, and use them offensively in our efforts to cement the Port of Grenaa’s position as one of Denmark’s biggest commercial and industrial ports,” reiterated Carstensen. “We already have a comfortable position in the top ten. The port’s accounts for 2015 showed a profit, and our financial forecast for 2016 looks very good. We need to exploit that position by doing more of what we’re good at, and let others do what they’re good at. We need to dare to be selective.”

The change of direction comes at a time when competition among Danish ports is increasing, at the same time as many of them implement structural changes. Many of those close to city centres are increasingly designating some areas as residential and recreational. That, in turn, places some very restrictive environmental limitations on the activities that can be conducted within a port.

Nevertheless, this is not necessarily the case at Grenaa, which is a dedicated industrial port whose location in relation to neighbouring residential areas means it has excellent potential to increase its activities without bothering its neighbours. That’s a position it intends to exploit by attracting activities that are dependent on plenty of space and less stringent environmental criteria, particularly those concerning dust and noise. In addition, the port has other, unique advantages in the form of deep waters and close proximity to the sailing routes of the Kattegat.

“Overall, these factors give us a number of unique 

competitive advantages that must be promoted to attract new customers and partners with a specific need for the options and services that the Port of Grenaa can offer. We must target customers and partners able to make use of the areas in which we are already strong, have experience and the facilities required,” noted Carstensen.

Dry bulk is certainly one of these areas.

The port has significant trade in grain and foodstuffs, woodchip and pellets, sand and gravel, road salt, feed salt and lime, and scrap metal. To handle these, the various operators have acquired specialist cranes, while both covered and uncovered stockpile areas are available.

The various warehouses are located close to the quay and have either solid concrete floors or concrete paving, with lighting in every warehouse. The automatic electric doors are also lockable, while inside there are no pillars, so the whole area can be used for storage. Several of the insulated warehouses can also be heated. The size of facility ranges from 750m2 to 2,000m2, totalling 24,000m2, with the two large facilities given over completely to dry bulk.

The port also offers value-added services for bulk shipments. These include weighing, sample-taking, bagging up and drying facilities, and Big Bag handling.

“These special competences and strengths must be promoted more widely and weight more heavily for the Port of Grenaa’s market position,” noted Carstensen.

One of the main infrastructure investments that will directly benefit the landside movement of dry bulk shipments is the new bypass, which is being built to the north of Grenaa. This will take heavy traffic from the north around the town and directly into the port, where facilities for loading and unloading are excellent.

“We will be the envy of many other ports. This is yet another advantage at a time when other port towns are laying down restrictions for heavy traffic and are struggling with gridlock in their town centres,” Carstensen suggested.

Significantly, new sorting facilities for metal scrap are increasing activities at the Port of Grenaa, where investment of $8.8 million has been made by Stena Recycling in a new plant.

This will enable around 20,000 tonnes of additional scrap metal to be exported.

The plant, which opened at the end of 2016, incorporates a new shredder for fine shredding and sorting metal scrap. This, in turn, will boost the amount of waste that can be recycled. Now, just 10% of the scrap received is sent for incineration in power plants.

The rest of Stena Recycling’s metal mountain in the Port of Grenaa is now sorted into different metals after shredding. These can be iron, aluminium, stainless steel, copper and so on, which are required for recycling in countries such as Sweden and Turkey.

Stena Recycling’s COO Mette Boysen explained that recycling metal saves enormous resources and CO2, which is why it is worth investing large amounts in extracting higher percentages of metal for recycling when sorting.

The putting into operation of the new plant, which occupies a 1,500m2 facility, took around three years to complete.

This facility will perform extra fine sorting of the material left when crushed metal scrap has been through the first station, which is where pure metal pieces are extracted. The residual material — known as SLF — represents around 20% of the scrap processed. SLF, which consists of plastic, rubber, textiles and so on, used to be dumped. But thanks to the new plant, more revenue can be generated by fine-sorting SLF and recycling the metal component it still contains.

“The objective is to ... [eventually] recycle almost 100% of a scrapped car. There’s a lot of potential, for instance, in recycling plastic waste, and the general global environmental trend is towards as little dumping as possible by recycling as much as possible, or converting it to energy,” noted Boysen. “But in many instances — such as recycling plastic — the calculations involved are very complex. It’s not only the technological options that are important. We always have to consider the financial aspects, where global mineral prices come into play, as they are important to those industries that reuse metal, plastic and so on.”

The existing Stena Recycling plant at the port used to handle 260,000 tonnes of scrap, which will now be increased to 280,000 tonnes. 

NORDEN’s fleet increases its fuel mileages significantly  

On 1 January 2013, NORDEN set up a specific department with the task of increasing the fleet’s fuel efficiency, and this has had a large effect.

Fuel costs made up about 60% of voyage costs, when NORDEN in 2012 decided to set up a specific department with the task of increasing vessels’ fuel efficiency and thereby contributing to economic optimization of voyages — regardless of whether these voyages are undertaken by owned vessels, long-term chartered vessels or on vessels chartered for a single or just a few trips.

Since then, oil prices have dropped significantly meaning that today fuel make up approximately 45% of voyage costs. However, there are still large sums of money to be saved primarily by ensuring that the propellers are polished and that the hull is free from fouling, and by ensuring that vessels travel at the optimum speed.

In addition, it is NORDEN’s overall objective to contribute to more efficient and sustainable global trade and thereby increased global prosperity.


NORDEN’s special team working with fuel efficiency saw the light of day on 1 January 2013.
The first year was spent on establishing the monitoring of all vessels — read a description of the monitoring system in separate article — and
the results are remarkable. During the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, the owned and chartered dry cargo vessels and product tankers in NORDEN’s fleet
have altogether reduced their fuel costs by U$24.9 million — and they have done this entirely by utilizing the fuel more efficiently.

If the current efficiency level continues unchanged, total annual savings on the fuel account this year and the coming years will be US$16.5 million – a cost reduction which will have a direct impact on the bottom line.


Peter Sinding, who heads up the Fuel Efficiency team, explains that the largest savings have been achieved on NORDEN’s owned vessels. At the end of 2016, they were 10% more efficient compared to 3 years earlier. In terms of the long-term chartered vessels, efficiency had been increased by 5.4%, while the short- term chartered vessels had increased their fuel utilisation by 1.3%.

At the end of 2016, NORDEN’s fleet was made up of 236 dry cargo vessels and product tankers — 37.5 owned, 66.5 long- term chartered and 132 short-term chartered.

”The large difference in fuel efficiency is due to the fact that the more power we have of a vessel — and if we own it, we have the full right of disposal — the more influence we have on how efficiently it is run. This is especially the case when we talk about technical measures such as vessel paint, propeller polishing and hull cleaning. Planned measures are always assessed in comparison to the expected fuel price, so that we know that financially they make sense,” says Peter Sinding.  

He points out that the increased fuel efficiency has even been achieved during a period of years when NORDEN’s fleet on average has aged. Generally, vessels become thirstier with age, and it requires greater efforts to do something about it.

This is how savings are achieved:

  • better painting of vessels
  • systematic propeller polishing
  • cleaning of hull
  • more focus on bunker cheating


The first condition for achieving savings on fuel consumption is that the fuel efficiency team receives a correct impression of the vessel’s current efficiency level — i.e. before taking action, if at all. It is not a simple task to determine the efficiency of a vessel, because vessels are subject to conditions that change all the time — i.e. speed, draught and weather conditions, which all affect the vessels’ consumption considerably.

“Maybe that is exactly why there is something to achieve and the possibility of a commercial advantage,” says Head of Fuel Efficiency, Peter Sinding.


The next condition for achieving savings is that the collected data is also being used by the charterers and the operators in NORDEN and Norient Product Pool (NPP), which is in charge of the commercial and operational performance of NORDEN’s  product tankers, and by the colleagues in the Technical Department and in Asset Management, the latter being the department that buys and charters vessels for NORDEN.

This has required a lot of meetings and many discussions on which data is relevant in order to carry out the work of reducing fuel consumption as effectively as possible.

”Finally — and maybe most importantly of all — our work in Fuel Efficiency depends on the fact that everyone in NORDEN and NPP participates actively in the work and refrain from suboptimizing on their own area. It is no good if the Technical Department buys bottom paint of a low quality to minimize the immediate operating costs, if the vessel then does not glide as well through the water and increases its fuel consumption. It is no use either if a charterer or an operator avoids having the hull cleaned or the propeller polished on his or her voyage. This may increase earnings on this voyage, but the next will then be more expensive, as it will require more fuel. Fortunately, it is my impression that we are all now good at working towards a shared goal: voyages that are as fuel efficient as possible,” says Peter Sinding.


In order to measure data, share data and take action on data that requires action, Fuel Efficiency has made a set-up which

consists of three elements:

  • a so-called propulsion module, which makes it possible to continuously measure the efficiency of vessels;
  • a set of traffic lights with green, yellow and red lights, which distributes data and identifies where actions are required; and 
  • seven monthly meetings between Fuel Efficiency, the chartering and operations departments in NORDEN/NPP and the Technical Department



So far, fuel efficiency improvements have primarily been achieved through increased hull and propeller effectiveness. Going forward, NORDEN expects large savings especially in two areas achieved through future projects:


  • better tools for the selection of vessels for short-term charter; and
  • a reduction of the use of the auxiliary engine at sea and in port


NORDEN’s Dry Cargo business has decided to increase its operator activities, whereby cargoes are combined with available vessels in the market for a single or just a few trips. It is therefore important to select fuel efficient vessels also for short- term chartering.