Shaping Stockholm’s container landscape

Norvik port under construction. Credit: Stockholms Hamnar
Norvik port under construction. Credit: Stockholms Hamnar

A USD410 million port project at Norvik, 60 km south of Swedish capital Stockholm, is designed to support container operations, which are moving out of the Port of Stockholm, creating more space for growing ro-ro operations shared by Norvik’s neighbouring port, Nynäshamn, which also handles ferries.

According to Ports of Stockholm, the authority managing all the area ports, the new facility at Norvik will open in 2020, move about 500,000 containers – Hutchison Ports will operate the terminal – and 200,000 ro-ro vehicles each year.

The authority has said the port “will ensure the efficient supply of goods to the Stockholm region, one of Europe’s fastest growing capital cities. With this type of growth, long-term investment in a well-functioning infrastructure is essential and the port is an important part of this development.”

Getting ready

This project went through years of approval and permitting processes. Anticipation grew, with skilled technicians poised to start upon final clearance, at which time they headed straight for the Norvik greenfield site abutting an AGA LNG terminal and a Nynas refinery. That was in September 2016.

Officials clearly are pleased with the progress of what they have called the “mighty construction” of the new facility, formally named Stockholm Norvik Port. Work has entailed varied construction, dredging, reclamation, and blasting operations by an onsite team that, during the process so far, has ranged from 100 to 350 people.

Ports of Stockholm noted that buildings and quays are under construction “and bridges over a future railway are emerging simultaneously. Gigantic supporting casement walls that have been cast on-site are being moved into place on the seabed with millimetre precision.”

NCC is the general contractor, Boskalis has reclaimed a parcel of about 10 ha, one-quarter of the completed port’s eventual 44 ha area, and constructed a quay wall reportedly 1.1 km in length, with Boskalis subsidiary Terramare completing dredging early in the construction process. Work now is past the halfway mark – a milestone pointed out by Ports of Stockholm in May 2018.

Moving material

Magnus Sjöberg, Ports of Stockolm’s project manager at Norvik, recently shared details about the initiative with DPC. Terramare’s dredgers cleared about 1.1 million m3 of quayside material – placing silt at sea and using the remaining materials, in addition to granite and moraine generated from blasting, for backfill behind the enormous quay elements. As part of the process, “a 9 m-high layer of rock aggregate will be laid down over the future port esplanade area to compress that land and prevent subsidence,” according to the port.

NCC’s work includes overseeing continued blasting. Removing the site’s rocky outcrops has been a process that is exacting and in great volumes, with the largest single blast so far shattering 275,000 to 300,000 m3, according to NCC project manager Carina Angarth and the port. She told DPC that this aspect of the project would take months and is expected to generate about 10 million m3 of material. Some leftover amounts are being sold for fill, after the backfill requirement is met.

Establishing relations

Another major aspect will be the construction of about 2 km of rail line serving the port – including through areas cleared by the blasting. Clearing the way for the railway paused recently while a very different activity got under way: an archaeological excavation, which commenced after a preliminary investigation indicated that a further look was merited.

There has not been any official word on the outcome at the time of writing, but Angarth told DPC that there may conceivably be remnants of human activity, a settlement, or even a port dating back many centuries. Even with this pause, construction work seems to be proceeding well, with the port and NCC trading compliments. “Everything is going smoothly,” Sjöberg said, praising NCC’s efforts and describing the general contractor as “a good and competent partner”. Angarth, in turn, added that working with the port was going well.

This is a multipronged initiative indeed. In addition to the new port, NCC is developing an adjacent 410,000 m2 logistic and business park, with warehouses and office buildings, and, connected, as will be the port, with the new rail track.

Sjöberg provided additional insights about the motivation for choosing Norvik, citing bigger ships, the environment, and city encroachment. He also pointed out deep water in, and in the approaches to, Norvik – as much as 16.5 m, according to Ports of Stockholm – and the location’s proximity to shipping lanes as well as to Stockholm. Also, Norvik is closer to open sea lanes plied by today’s larger vessels than is Stockholm, slicing three-hours from round-trip voyages, with corresponding fuel and emissions reductions.

Further, the new facility “complies with the European Union’s ambition to increase the proportion of sea transport in relation to the total amount of transported goods. A new and modern port with direct motorway and railway connections, built using state-of-the-art technologies, is an efficient and sustainable transport solution,” according to Ports of Stockholm.

Growing demand

Vessels calling at Norvik will include the Baltic’s largest, enabled by the new port’s natural depths, ranging from about 12–16.5m, with quayside dredging complementing that. As for encroachment, Stockholm itself, let alone its metropolitan area, has been growing in population for years, with some estimates indicating that the current 952,000 city inhabitants will swell to 1 million within six years. Such growth demands greater volumes of goods, along with more space.

Therefore, a major construction focus in recent years has been on Stockholm’s Värta Pier, with a major project recently completed that extended an existing ro-ro and passenger traffic site, thus keeping that service in the capital, while opening up land for development. That land is in addition to other large abutting tracts opened up by moving various marine functions away from Stockholm.

And in yet another move, a Ports of Stockholm ferry and ro-ro facility at Kapellskär, some 90 km north of Sweden’s capital, was expanded and modernised in a USD95 million project that was finished several years ago. The impetus there was to create facilities able to foster increasing passenger traffic moving between Sweden, Estonia, and Finland.

All told, the imminent completion of the port project at Norvik looks set to be greater than the sum of its parts. Indeed, the nuts and bolts work exemplifies a big nitiative with implications to match: forging the shape of tomorrow’s Stockholm region.