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A new distance learning course has been launched by leading port scholars to help further knowledge about port development and management.
The course has been developed by seven leading academics that jointly cooperate in www.porteconomics.eu, the web-based initiative aiming at developing and disseminating knowledge about seaports.
One of the contributors, Peter de Langen, is the owner and principal consultant of Ports & Logistics Advisory, a small Rotterdam based consultancy firm and also works part-time as professor of Cargo Transport & Logistics, at Eindhoven University of Technology. He is also a regular contributor to Port Strategy.
He said: “This course allows participants to learn when and where they want. There is another distance learning programme, but that course works mostly with industry practitioners, this initiative works with leading academics. This course brings together leading academics for different universities with a track record in industry oriented research and executive education. The strong involvement of leading scholars working in Isa, North America and Europe is unique.”
The distance learning programme consists of self- studying readers, a large number of short video lectures and individualised assignments. Four core modules provide core concepts and insights, participants can chose four additional electives of more specialised topics.
It is being targeted towards individuals working or with the ambition to start working in the ports industry. A secondary audience consists of academics that want to increase their knowledge for teaching and or research.
The other contributors to the course include: Theo Notteboom, Thanos Pallis, Pierre Cariou, Michael Dooms Jean-Paul Rodrigue and Francesco Parola. They frequently contribute to industry reports and conferences, publish widely read opinions and have experience in leading executive education programmes worldwide.
This new programme is a further cooperative step following the successful introduction of the Port Executive Seminar organised annually since 2010.
Participants can start on the course from 1 September 2015 onwards.
COMMENT: In Antwerp, the closure of the GM plant makes a huge site available for re-development, while in Rotterdam, one of the refineries (currently owned by Q8) is up for sale, writes Peter de Langen.
For the latter, one scenario is a buyer will transform the refinery into a terminal for bulk cargoes.
These cases from the two largest European ports show that both industrial and logistics facilities have a life-cycle. Similar closures of large scale sites in ports have occurred in Groningen, Teesside and Wilhemshafen, to name a few. These closures create re-development challenges for ports.
Compared with new greenfield developments, re-development at the end of the life cycle is more complicated. Outdated infrastructure or industrial sites often remain underused and/or derelict for long periods of time.
The creation of value for new types of users – and society at large – is often hampered by legal and institutional complexities. Questions are raised: such as who is responsible for soil pollution; and does the port authority have incentives to initiate re-development for non-port functions.
Port authorities may need to spend some time thinking through their approach to transitions in ports. Many ports host capital intensive industries based on fossil fuels. In some cases, port authorities may simply wait until plants close down, even if this involves a relatively long period of continued operations of fairly outdated plants.
In other cases, a more pro-active approach may be appropriate. Perhaps infrastructure investments are needed to create new development options? These generally have to be planned well in advance – certainly if government entities are expected to financially contribute. In other cases, co-siting may smooth the transition back to the beginning of the life cycle.
There may also be pricing issues involved: the port may have to secure a healthy return from mature activities to be able to create attractive offerings for activities at the beginning of their life-cycle.
For ports in mature economies, acknowledging the inevitability that some activities will close down sooner or later and developing scenarios on how to redevelop large sites currently occupied by mature industries may be worth the effort.
COMMENT: Last month, DP World bought the Maher terminal in Prince Rupert, with a 2014 throughput of a little over 600,000 teu for more than a half billion US dollar – just under $1,000 per teu handled, writes Peter de Langen.
Two aspects of this deal are interesting. First, the price seems to indicate huge confidence in growing volumes: the terminal is to be expanded to a capacity of about 1.35m teu, with studies on the feasibility of a further expansion to about 2.5m teu.
In the past years, Prince Rupert has been the fastest growing port on the west coast of North America, with the majority – reportly up to 70% – of volumes destined for the US Midwest market.
Sustained growth may require Prince Rupert to become the market leader in this market, which has an estimated size of about 3m teu. That is quite an achievement given the fact that it is about 500 miles longer from Prince Rupert to the Midwest than from LA/Long Beach, and more than 1,500 miles longer than either New York or US Gulf ports. Prince Rupert clearly has a shorter maritime leg and resulting lower turnaround time, it is striking that gives them an edge on the total supply chain costs.
Second, the fact that the buyer is an independent terminal operator also is of note. The ‘Prince Rupert proposition’ seems to rely deeply on the competitiveness of rail rates from CN Pacific, and one or more shipping lines willing to call Prince Rupert as the first North American port. Thus, one could have thought that a joint-venture structure with a shipping line and/or CN Pacific and a terminal operator would be most likely, as this would commit more players to the Prince Rupert proposition.
The fact that DP World has followed a go-it-alone approach further suggests confidence in the Prince Rupert proposition. And all this in a context of the Panama Canal expansion, pressure to improve labour practices in the US west coast ports, ongoing ‘playing field’ debates between the US and Canada and (my prediction) stabilising instead of expanding freight flows between North America and Northeast Asia – this is certainly is a market to be watched In the years to come.