Port of Duisburg: Connecting global companies to European markets

Markus Bangen, CEO of duisport (Duisburger Hafen AG), the ownership and management company of the Port of Duisburg, breaks down the importance of handling 4.3 million TEU (20-foot standard containers) through the most efficient, resource-friendly, and cost-effective transport chains possible. The Port of Duisburg is a trimodal logistics hub and the world’s largest inland port.

On July 5, 2023, it was announced that PSA International, headquartered in Singapore, has acquired a 22 percent minority stake in Duisburg Gateway Terminal (DGT), located in the Port of Duisburg. Tan Chong Meng, group CEO of PSA, said: “As part of Europe’s largest and most sustainable inland port, DGT will be a key gateway in providing green logistics services to Germany’s dense industrial hinterland.” 

Leveraging on PSA’s global ports and supply chain network, as well as its strong presence in continental Europe, he added that PSA aimed to strengthen the DGT partnership and “support Germany’s green energy transition in line with our strategic focus towards enabling smoother, more resilient, and sustainable trade.”

What are the biggest pain points and bottlenecks in maritime logistics post-Covid? 

From a logistics perspective, there are currently no bottlenecks. Freight rates are back to a normal level and transport capacity is also available.

However, the omnipresent economic situation poses a challenge. Persistently high inflation and the associated reduction in consumer behavior are leading to a decline in transport volumes, particularly in Europe. These developments are also reflected in the declining handling figures in almost all European ports. 

What is strategic and visionary about DGT partnership with PSA? 

The transaction is subject to the approval of Germany’s competition and supervisory authorities. Upon completion of the transaction, PSA will join Hupac, HTS, and duisport as shareholders of DGT. 

The Port of Duisburg stands for neutrality and internationality. The participation of global port and logistics group PSA in DGT reflects precisely this and illustrates the continued attractiveness and competitiveness of the location.

This network expansion strengthens both the competitive diversity and the further diversification of the Port of Duisburg. The topic of supply chain diversification has an increasingly important meaning. 

In general, we are pleased to have gained another important strategic partner for the DGT company. All shareholders will contribute significantly to the success of the DGT with its various business segments in Europe, Asia, and worldwide.

With an area of 235,000 sqm, DGT will be the largest container terminal in the European hinterland when completed. The first construction phase is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2024. What are the considerations to ensure safety and success?

The impact of the supply chain problems is also being felt by us in terms of delivery times. The original construction time has been adjusted, but the construction of the plants is proceeding according to plan. PV systems, battery storage, H2 CHP, and fuel cells have been ordered and will be ready for commissioning in 2024. The bridge lift-in is dependent on the water level. Operation is planned for Q2/Q3 2024.

Intensive and very detailed planning was a central component in the planning of the terminal.

The expertise we have built up over the past 20 years in the areas of design, planning, construction, and commissioning of hinterland terminals enables forward-looking and valid planning which ensures timely implementation.

How will duisport transform the inland port landscape? 

The modal split in Germany is 75/15/10.

As a European trade hub, Duisburg has long been completely full of truck traffic. But the modal split at the location is 50/25/25.

With the new terminal, we are once again focusing more strongly on acting as a central hub for goods traffic in Central Europe. With the DGT, we are taking a step further in this development. Also, for the first time in Europe, we are doing so in a climate-neutral manner in an inland port. 

A major contribution to this is made by a new modal shift, a transformation of the previous distribution of loads among the various modes of transport: trucks are to take on only 20 percent of the loads, with 40 percent each of the transshipments reaching their destinations by rail or inland waterway. This will save well over 100,000 truck trips around Duisburg every year.

We are thus making a key contribution to modal shift, even if there will still be trucks for the last mile.

duisport has invested in many operating offices worldwide. What were the push and pull factors which shaped your decision to partner with them?  

The duisport business model is deliberately broad-based. Duisburger Hafen AG cooperates with numerous national and international partners without becoming dependent on individual companies. For example, the duisport Group holds stakes abroad in various operating companies in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Turkey, India, China, and Singapore.

The investments abroad are always made with the aim of strengthening the Duisburg location and handling additional volumes in or via the region, as well as providing the industry in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) with access to fast and resilient transport chains.

The investments in Turkey and Italy, for example, were made against the background of strengthening the seaports in southern Europe. Through our investments, we ensure that stable transport chains to NRW are maintained and expanded. In this way, we contribute directly to maintaining and strengthening NRW as a business location.

Why is supply chain diversification more crucial than ever in present times? How do you think it will evolve against the background of recent global affairs? 

Diversification is essential in order to avoid dependencies. This also means participating alongside different transport chains in order to ensure resilience. At the same time, participating in different locations ensures that you can react flexibly to global developments.

The uncertainties will remain in the medium term and therefore make diversification necessary in the future. Transport routes are subject to constant change.

The focus is on environmental goals and thus also on the goals of modal shift. In order to achieve these goals, the development of multimodal transport chains, particularly in the hinterland, is of central importance. We make a key contribution to this with our investments in Germany and abroad.

Do you think the expectations and goals of COP28 are feasible and practical? 

Setting goals is important and right. However, much more important than defining goals are concrete measures and their implementation. This is where we hope to see concrete results from COP28.

In your opinion, what does COP28 need to focus on for maritime sustainability and going green?

If possible, there should be concrete specifications regarding the technology and fuels to be used. In addition, the definition of intermediate times is of central importance, including concrete measures that need to be implemented in order to achieve these targets.

Photo credit: duisport. Markus Bangen, CEO of duisport.

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