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Port of Zeebrugge invests in initiatives for clean ships

The Port of Zeebrugge (Flanders) has been the biggest automotive port in the world for the last 2 years, with Norwegian car shipping company UECC – daughter of the Japanese NYK and the Swedish Wallenius – transporting 600,000 cars annually via the port.

UECC’s Auto Eco is the first car ship to burn gas oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), meeting the environmental guidelines of both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The Port of Zeebrugge wants to attract more clean car ships and will invest an estimated EUR 40 million in 2 quays over the next 5 years.

Green measures

Naming ceremony held for the world's first LNG-fueled pure car and truck carrier at the Port of Zeebrugge.

Naming ceremony held for the world's first LNG-fueled pure car and truck carrier at the Port of Zeebrugge.

The Auto Eco is called ‘the most advanced car ship’ in the world for a reason. It’s an environmental breakthrough: it relies solely on LNG and gas oil. Using LNG leads to less NOx- and CO2 emissions compared to fuel oil, releasing zero sulfur or dust particles. The ship is a major asset, as the North and Baltic Seas want ships to stop using fuel oil and limit their sulfur emissions.

“We’re choosing new ships with smaller ecological footprints,” explains UECC Head of High & Heavy cargo products Sven Jansen. “This leads to a bigger price tag (Auto Eco is valued at around EUR 60 million), but we receive a serious discount on transshipment costs in Flanders and Spain,” comments Auto Eco captain Pavel Blokhin.

Extra quays

The Port of Zeebrugge will invest at least EUR 40 million in the construction of 2 extra quays with lengths of 1 km over the next 5 years. Chairman Joachim Coens believes the arrival of Auto Eco will attract even more clean car ships to Flanders: “LNG is currently supplied by trucks, but ships can deliver it 4 times faster.”

In March 2017, the Port of Zeebrugge will be the only port in the world to boast an LNG delivery tanker. This ‘bunker ship’ – an initiative from Engie, NYK and Mitsubishi – can also distribute LNG to ships at the LNG terminal in Zeebrugge.” Today, 1 in 5 employees at the port – 2,000 in total – work at the automotive terminals or for car transshipment companies.

Strategic location

Coens: “We’re aiming at handling 3.4 million cars by 2020. Not because the market is expanding, but because smaller ports can no longer manage car transport. Car manufacturers prefer geographically-strategic ports with knowhow and plenty of room for operating.”

Today, 70 countries and an almost equal number of car brands work with the Port of Zeebrugge. The most important destinations are the United Kingdom (40%), Spain, Japan and the United States. “Brexit has impacted UK’s purchasing power a little, but we’re very optimistic overall,” concludes Coens.

More info

Port of ZeebruggeInfrastructure in Flanders
Reported by
De Tijd Newspaper
3 January 2017

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