Klaipėda Sea Port in Lithuania targets to invest EUR352 million into port infrastructure and dredging operations between 2020 and 2023, a development plan recently submitted to the Transport Ministry stipulated.
The eventual target is to make the sea port “safer and more competitive”, plus available for commercial ships of a bigger size, Vidmantas Paukštė, acting head of the Klaipėda Sea Port, said in an explanatory note to the development plan.
The navigation depth is slated to be increased to 15 m, and by building new breakwaters the port authorities would be able to reduce the number of days per year in which the port is not available for ships over 250 metres in length due to bad weather conditions, according to the development plan.
The modernisation project could be followed by a deep-sea port construction project. As of today, land in Klaipėda sea port is used five times more than Riga, Ventspils, or Tallinn sea ports, and some expansion of the sea port territory is urgently needed, Arturas Drungilas, head of the marketing department of the Klaipėda sea port, said.
The Klaipėda sea port needs to be able to accept big ships, otherwise the port risks losing a competitive battle on the Baltic Sea to other ports, including the Port of Gdansk in Poland, Drungilas said. Lithuanian government officials previously said that the deep-sea port construction in Klaipeda might begin in 2025, but so far there is no certainty on this project.
Speaking during a government meeting in 2019, Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda called to halt the project. Nauseda explained that the only interested investor at that time was a group of Chinese companies, and that was not the kind of partner Lithuania wished to have.
“Lithuania is lacking strong investors”, Nauseda claimed. “If these are Chinese investments, this would be about the issues very important for Europe, this would be about the national security,” Nauseda said.
Klaipėda deep-sea port construction could cost EUR619 million or EUR1.1 billion, depending on the certain specification of the project, Vilnius-based think tank Smart Continent LT estimated.
In 2019, cargo traffic in the Klaipeda sea port amounted to 46.22 million tonnes compared with 46.58 in the previous year. About 6,776 ships called the sea port in 2019 compared with 7,082 in 2018, the Lithuanian government estimated.