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Gothenburg gets deep channel for large container ships

Caption: "MSC Viviana" in the port of Gothenburg (© Port of Gothenburg)

New competition for the North Range ports? Gothenburg has been given the green light by the EU to deepen its shipping channel. Now that preliminary studies, risk analyses, simulations, environmental permits and other preparatory work have been completed, the final hurdle has been cleared to get the Skandia Gateway project off the ground.

The EU Commission has confirmed that state funding for deepening the navigation channel does not constitute state aid, the port has now announced.

The main issue is accessibility for large container ships. That is the plan:

  • Planned deepening: From 13.5 to a maximum of 17.5 m ship draught
  • Reference ship: Length 430 m, width 65 m and a draught of 17.5 m
  • Budget: SEK 2.8 billion (cost status 2017), of which the Gothenburg Port Authority (Gothenburg Municipality) is contributing SEK 1.25 billion. The Gothenburg Port Authority has also previously received EU support for parts of the planning through the Connecting Europe Facilities Fund.
  • Dredging requirements: Approximately 11 million m³
  • Schedule: Start of quay reinforcement: February-March 2024 Dredging work in the fairway: Q3 2026
  • Completion: Q4 2027/Q1 2028.

Following the EU Commission’s announcement, the Gothenburg Port Authority was able to activate the already prepared agreement with the company NCC Infrastructure on the quay strengthening as part of the massive Skandia Gateway infrastructure project on Thursday afternoon. The next step is to form a project organization and set up offices next to the Port of Gothenburg’s container terminal before the groundbreaking ceremony in February 2024.

Map Skandia gateway eng
The plan for the deepening of the fairway in Gothenburg (© Port of Gothenburg)

“The course has been set for deepening the fairway”

“The course has been set for a long time, and we are very confident that we can now press the button and proceed with this project, which is so important for the competitiveness of Swedish industry. It’s high time we got started,” said Göran Eriksson, CEO of the Gothenburg Port Authority.

Direct global maritime transport without transshipment to and from the Port of Gothenburg is described as “an essential prerequisite for Swedish industry to reach global markets in a climate- and cost-efficient way”. However, as the largest ships are getting bigger and bigger, a deeper channel in the port is required. In 15 years, the capacity of container ships has increased by 50%, and today the largest ships can only enter the port of Gothenburg half-loaded. The shipping companies are now planning even larger ships.

“However, it’s not about the port’s raison d’être, but about ensuring that we can continue to serve Swedish industry in the future. The current channel depth is already a restriction, as shipping companies are limited in their choice of route to reach Gothenburg,” continues Eriksson. With the deepening of the fairway, the largest ships will be able to enter fully loaded in future, which in turn will provide flexibility for existing traffic. “That in itself is a climate aspect, while the port will become interesting for even more routes,” says the port manager.

Skandia Gateway is a joint project in which the Gothenburg Port Authority is responsible for the quay reinforcement measures in the container terminal, while the Swedish Maritime Administration is responsible for the measures in the fairway. Initially, 700 meters of the quay will be reinforced. This is a prerequisite for the quay to be able to accommodate larger ships than today and for the Swedish Maritime Administration to be able to start dredging a 5 km section of the fairway, where 11 million cubic meters of material will be dredged.

“The EU’s decision gives us the opportunity to continue work on the Skandia Gateway in order to achieve the joint goal of the Swedish Maritime Administration and the Gothenburg Port Authority to complete the project by 2027/2028. For the Swedish Maritime Administration, we are working to find a contractor for the fairway measures so that we can start dredging after the summer of 2026,” said Jenny Röström, Project Manager at the Swedish Maritime Administration.

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