New Port Services Act will reshape port operations
The project to incorporate European ports into the European single market has been under preparation for 15 years. The European Parliament approved a proposal in December 2016, and the law took effect on 24 March 2019. The law applies to the EU’s TEN-T network of ports, of which there are 16 in Finland.
According to Annaleena Mäkilä, the Managing Director of Ports of Finland, the new Port Services Act will affect four different activities in ports: towing, mooring and unmooring, waste management and refuelling.
Ports may handle these operations in-house or use service providers. The Act will provide ports with a means of putting services out to tender and developing their businesses in their regions.
“Port companies can set minimum requirements for service providers related to factors such as professional qualifications, the company’s financial position or its ability to operate 24/7. The Act includes an exhaustive list of requirements. Port companies may also limit the number of service providers in their own areas,” Mäkila says.
“Helsinki has addressed this matter by spinning off its regional service business, which handles mooring and unmooring services. This business is now a subsidiary,” Mäkilä continues.
Sixty personnel were transferred from the Port of Helsinki to its new subsidiary, South Finland Port Service Ltd. The new company began operating on New Year’s Day with a service framework prepared by the parent company.
The short timetable has been the greatest challenge that the company has faced so far.
“We have turned the challenge around into our favour. It has led to dynamism, although the large, rapid change has also involved some difficult steps,” says Miika Mandell, the Head of Operations.
The company is now investing in quality and finetuning its basic services. Subcontracting will be used to balance out peak periods and overcapacity. According to Mandell and Service Manager Dennis Rossi, all operations need to be approached with a more critical eye.
“We are under greater earning pressure than before,” Rossi summarises.
This critical approach may manifest itself in the pricing structure via a decrease in costs. So far, the hourly prices have been reduced slightly, but the mooring and unmooring fees are similar to last year.