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Tough beginning for the GPMs
Fos announced it was preparing an ap- lo-lo container traffic increased by 4% to
peal for candidates to run the Graveleau 900,000 TEU - in part a reflection of the
container terminal at Fos, as a result of damage caused by strikes in 2008 (even
“the failure of existing operators Eurofos though 2009 was hardly trouble-free).
ast year was the first full year for and Seayard to reach agreement on set- Intermodal rail traffic fell by 25%, al-
France’s Grands Ports Maritimes ting up a joint company.” though container barge traffic on the
(GPM), the structures of France’s The situation at Mourepiane con- Rhône increased by 44% to 55,000 TEU.
seven leading seaports created by the port tainer terminal in Marseilles was “unclear,” The port’s message is upbeat. Its in-
reform law of July 2008, as replacements although the national evaluation commis- vestment budget remains at a high level
for the former ports autonomes. Given the sion for port reform supported the port’s (€130M), of which €62M is going on the
strife accompanying the new law, 2009 transfer proposals two dry bulk terminals Fos 2XL container terminal, which is due
might have been one of recovery, but the handling cereals and ore at Fos - Carfos for start-up next year. The superstructures
ports were hit by the global crisis. and its affiliate Stockfos. GPM now has will be financed by the operators, MSC
The reforms are aimed at moving the up to six months to finalise operating and Portsynergy. Elsewhere in the port
GPMs from “tool” to “landlord” port au- agreements with them. estate, IKEA is building a new distribu-
thorities. They also handed them a tri- Traffic dipped 13% last year, although tion platform, Cap Vrac and Biocar are
partite management structure, ostensibly investing in new plants and a new car ter-
to provide more transparency and greater Safmarine is now making monthly calls at minal is under construction.
local/regional influence over their actions. Dunkirk (Barra SNM in the East Port) with The new Fos Cavaou LNG terminal
wcn_ItalGru 23/5/07 9:10 pm Page 1
its Central West Africa multi-purpose service
(70:30 GDF and Total) was completed in
Out en masse
The GPMs have proved more robust than
some opponents or critics of the reforms
predicted, although of course it is still
“early days” and the conversion to land-
lord status can be a painful process.
In March the whole Management
Board of GPM de Nantes-St Nazaire led
by CEO François Marendet resigned
when the government rejected its reform
package, which was negotiated in the
teeth of a two-week blockade of the port
by the CGT. Supervisory Board chairman
Pierre Guénant also resigned.
Most of the issues at St Nazaire have
now been settled, with the exception of
the coal terminal, but the situation in
Nantes, where around 160 of the GPM’s
300-strong workforce are required to
transfer to the private sector, is still unre-
solved. On top of that, the port’s traffic
fell back to the 2000 level 31 Mt.
Pierre Klein, the new chairman of the
Supervisory Board, has cut the planned
2010 investment budget from €50M to
€40M (€45M in 2009). The plan to en-
large the container terminal at Montoir
to accept 8000 TEU ships has been post-
poned, while the Donges East dry bulk
terminal project has been abandoned.
New bulk facility
200 kms to the south, GPM de La Ro-
chelle-La Pallice is nearing completion
of its new dry bulk quay at Anse St Marc
and the new facility should be commis-
sioned this Autumn. Essentially a bulk port
- outbound agri-products and inbound
energy products account for > 70% of
throughput - La Rochelle saw just a 5%
fall in traffic last year to 7.5 Mt.
The Atlantic façade ports of Nantes,
La Rochelle and Bordeaux are supposed
to be developing a common development
strategy under the aegis of the Conseil de
Coordination Interportuaire (CCI) de
l’Atlantique. (This was set up last Decem-
ber, on the same lines as CCI de la Seine
- Le Havre, Rouen and Paris).
During the year GPM de Bordeaux-
Le Verdon’s project to build an LNG ter-
minal in Le Verdon, which would have
competed with the existing terminal at
Montoir, was “vetoed” by the government.
Jean-Paul Sandraz, the chairman of the
port’s Supervisory Board, was able to re-
port a 44% increase in container traffic
last year to a record 80,000 TEU, of which
25% comprised timber exports to the Far
East. There was a “windfall,” so to speak,
following Hurricane Klaus in January
2009, which devastated the forests of the
Landes. CMA-CGM introduced a sec-
ond feeder service and MSC also stepped
up frequency.
Bordeaux’s overall tonnage came to
8.8 Mt, of which oil products over GPMB
in Bassens accounted for 4.7 Mt. Total
throughput was down just 3% on 2008,
thanks to diversification in the dry bulk
sector. The investment budget this year is
€14M (compared to €8M in 2009), with
€5.5M going to modernise the Ambes oil
pier and, in association with RFF, improve
rail access. This and other port rail im-
provements are expected to cost €9M. A
new aggregates terminal is being studied
for the Grattequina site.
The Le Verdon site at the mouth of
the Gironde occupies 900-ha, but 650-
ha has been officially set aside as a green
reserve to help protect a particularly frag-
ile environment.
ITALGRU S.r.l., Italy - 24030 Ambivere (BG) Statale Briantea, 4 - Tel. +39 035 4932411 Fax +39 035 4932409 E-mail:
Graveleau impasse
Underscoring the slow pace of the re-
forms, in December GPM de Marseille-
February 2010 29
29_pos33_WCN_Feb.indd 1 01/03/2010 21:17:02
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