For many years, fishing has been a key element of Iceland’s economic relations with the Federal Land of Bremen. But Iceland’s President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and other representatives of the country wish to expand these connections. The island in the Arctic Ocean now wishes to play a more important role in the logistics sector and is consequently conducting in-depth investigations about the construction of a new port. The planning experts and engineers at the port management company bremenports, who market their maritime engineering expertise throughout the world, have been asked to participate in the Finna Fjord project.
There are various reasons why Iceland is interested in constructing a new port at Finna Fjord in the north-east of the country:
- Shipping is set to increase in the Arctic Ocean in future. Climate change could mean that the North-West Passage and – even more likely – the North-East Passage will soon be navigable by large seagoing vessels for increasingly long periods of the year. This would be an attractive option for shipping companies, as the North-East Passage reduces the route from China to North-West Europe from approx. 11,000 to just 6,500 nautical miles.
- There are oil and natural gas deposits with considerable economic potential to the north and west of Iceland.
- There are plans to mine mineral resources in Greenland and licences have already been granted to Asian companies.
- Iceland wants to profit from the cruise shipping business in Arctic waters.
“The people of Iceland want to systematically exploit these opportunities,” explains Robert Howe, Technical Director at bremenports. After a visit to Iceland to discuss the Finna Fjord project with President Grímsson, Howe is convinced that this is a good opportunity to expand bremenports’ consulting business. This will involve all aspects of planning the new seaport, inclusive of environmental impact analyses and the consequent measures.
Iceland plans to build the new port at a location which is free of ice all year round thanks to the Gulf Stream. The preparations are already underway: during the second half of 2012, the Icelandic company EFLA Consulting Engineers and bremenports drew up a Letter of Intent, which was signed by both partners and two local authorities close to the location of the planned port.
The first stage will be to assess which examinations are needed to identify the feasibility and future viability of the new port. The second phase will involve analysis of the location, its geological features, environmental aspects as well as diverse legal and political questions. This will be followed by a market analysis and cost estimate.
“Our company has extensive experience of planning sophisticated port construction projects,” points out Managing Director Howe. “The request for our cooperation at an early planning phase confirms our international reputation.” On completion of the preliminary examinations, a contract will be signed for the entire development planning. The port planners from Bremerhaven are to be granted the right to act as sole coordinators until conclusion of the Finna Fjord project.
Martin Günthner, Bremen’s Senator for Economic Affairs and Ports, is delighted at the port management company’s activities in Iceland: “This is not only a great opportunity for bremenports, but also a first sign of further business potential. The protection of natural resources and the environment will be key features of the agreed cooperation. Other actors in the Federal Land of Bremen, from members of the port and logistics business to the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, will also be involved in the project.”
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