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The value of economic decline due to Coronavirus at the ports reached 10%

In the 1st quarter of 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic cost the Polish ports 10% in lost revenue. Losses were recorded at all of them and were experienced in all of the cargo sectors, apart from wheat, which following several years of downturn, this year reached the status of a high-in-demand commodity. In total, during the first 6 months of this year Polish ports handled nearly 51.2 mln tonnes of cargo.

The port where the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus pandemic was most severely experienced was the smallest one, namely  Police. At that port the drop in cargo handling reached more than 20% and was recorded in all of the cargo sectors.  In total, in the 1st quarter of the year Police handled 737 tonnes of cargo.

Gdańsk has also been strongly affected by the crisis. In the 1st quarter of this year it handled 23.163 mln tonnes of cargo, which means a decrease in turnoverby more than 15%. In terms of volume, crude oil and liquid fuels recorded the most significant drops. They recorded a drop in cargo volumes of 3,375 mln tonnes less than the year before. This was mainly due to a high base freight rate, as this year maritime supplies had to replace pipeline transports from Russia, due to the contamination of the delivered fuel. In addition, the fuel market was one of those that were most affected by the economic impact of the global quarantine.

The coal-handling sector also suffered a severe decline, with a drop of more than 825.6 thousand tonnes.  There are two likely causes for that. The first reason, as in the majority of cases is the Coronavirus pandemic. Limitations and restrictions placed on the work of many actors, caused the economy to require less energy, and consequently a drop in coal requirement at the power stations.  It was recorded that in the period January-May of this year the domestic electricity production dropped by o 6,8%.   This was followed by a decrease of coal imports into Poland. The second reason may be an increasing share of renewables in the global electricity generation.  Technological advances cause the RES energy and the coal energy generation prices to match, and this provides a stronger motivation to move away from coal, than the warnings about the greenhouse effect.

A far smaller decrease in cargo handling was recorded at the port complex Szczecin-Świnoujście. A decrease of 8% compared to 2019 was mainly due to a drop in cargo handling of break bulk cargo, crude oil and coal. In total, in the 1st quarter of this year, the West Pomeranian ports handled 15,255 mln tonnes of goods.

The port which experienced the smallest impact of the pandemic was Port of Gdynia, where the drop in turnover was only 0.5%.   This was directly related to the more than 100% increase in wheat handling operations - by 1,487 mln tonnes. This is linked to the high global market demand, caused by concerns over its availability due to the Coronavirus pandemic and a lower supply that has shrunk as a result of last year's fires in Australia. Consequently, the export of Polish wheat, which is shipped to recipients abroad by sea, was at a record high. In total, in the 1st quarter of 2020 the figures for cargo handling at Gdynia stand at 12.025 mln tonnes as compared to 12.80 mln tonnes in the previous year.

The ability to maintain its level of turnover at last year’s level allowed Gdynia, in the face of falls at the remaining ports, to increase its share in the total of cargo handling operations. In the 1st quarter of this year Gdynia handled 24% of goods transported in Poland by sea, whereas last year’s figure reached 21%. The share of Szczecin-Świnoujście also rose by 1 percentage point, reaching the level of 30%, while at the same time the share of Police fell by the same value, dropping to 2%. Gdańsk lost 3 percentage points and is currently handling 45% of all cargo in Poland.

Article developed with Namiary na Morze i Handel magazine

phot. T. Urbaniak/ZMPG-a


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