A complicated year is ending again for the economy of the Islands and with not very good prospects for the beginning of 2022, due to the havoc that the omicron variant is causing in Tenerife and in the rest of the world. To all this, which especially affects the cruise market, we must add the supply crisis, the increase in the price of freight due to the shipping wars and the consumer voracity that is leaving China, the main producer country, without the possibility of reaction. An unfavorable situation for the ports of Tenerife, which will face next year with great uncertainty, but with new challenges and a clear commitment to the definitive relaunch of the port of Granadilla.
The president of the port agency, Carlos González, assures DIARIO DE AVISOS that Granadilla will be a fundamental piece where all offshore wind power generation on the island and ship repair are supported.
-How do you rate this year 2021? Are you satisfied with the objectives achieved?
“The first six months of the year were highly influenced by the pandemic, but as of the summer, with a very high percentage of vaccination, traffic in ports began to reactivate, to the point that forecasts for next year point to Similar numbers to what we had in 2019. But what happens? With the omicron variant, especially in the case of cruise ships, everything has begun to change, since this traffic is very sensitive to all this situation. Bear in mind that in terms of scale request we were on par with 2019, and now we are uncertain about how this disproportionate increase in cases in the Islands and in the rest of the world can influence. But, in short, 2021 has been a year in which we have worked and achieved many goals. The processing of the special plan for Santa Cruz de La Palma began, which will change the entrance to the city; In Granadilla, we granted the Petrocan concession, which will allow the storage of the Santa Cruz Refinery to be transferred to the port; But the most important thing is that we have defined the future of the port of Granadilla for offshore wind power generation and ship repair. The Granadilla brand will be a fundamental piece where not only will offshore power generation be supported, but when all these maritime parks are created, the southern port will remain as a production point for other parks in other parts of the world, as it can. be Africa. Now it is about growing, developing and emerging professionals valued around the world. In addition, this year work has finally begun on the Valleseco beach. The port thus returns a space to the city. All this with the completion of the city port building, which will have two kiosks on the surface. The leisure area of the capital will be complemented ”.
-How is the supply crisis affecting the port and the increase in the price of freight worldwide?
“This is an issue that worries the entire port community, but is affecting the world due to the consequences that COVID has had on the main production center, which is China. That said, what we have done, which is the only thing we can do, is lower the rates on the vessel and the merchandise from 2020 to 2021 by 12.5% and we will continue to lower it by another 5% next year ”.
-A couple of weeks ago, the Board of Directors of the Port Authority agreed to expand the area of the administrative concession owned by Tenerife Shipyards in the port to install a floating dock. What does this new activity mean for ship repair in the port?
“In short, there are more services for the port. We are a tri-continental platform. We are between Europe, Africa and America, but we still need to give service to those ships that stop here. If we do not have ship repair and we cannot take a 30- or 40-meter-long ship out of the sea to repair its hull, then obviously we are not up to the task. For this reason, this floating dock is a first step to take ship repair where it needs to be, in the port of Santa Cruz. And any ship that passes through the area can be sure that it can stop at our port for any repairs. But, I say more: we are not going to stop here, because the intention of the ports of Tenerife is that the great repair center be in Granadilla ”.
-In the end, the idea was for the port of Granadilla to become a fundamental piece for the development of ‘offshore’ wind energy …
“The port of Granadilla has to be the protagonist in all the offshore wind forecasting. The objective of the Government of the Canary Islands is that in the year 2040 all the electrical energy of the Islands comes from renewable sources and all that explosion has to be assembled in specific points, which are the ports, and there are only two in the Canary Islands prepared for that, which are the Puerto de La Luz, in Las Palmas, and the one in Granadilla. And, in addition, all that offshore wind power has to be supported by ship repair for the development of the activity. For this reason, I assure you that the port of Granadilla right now has a very important and interesting future ”.
-But what is missing? Because since this project began more than 10 years ago, everyone has seen the future, but it has not yet started.
“It is true, but the objectives are there. It still has to award the ribera pier and the annexed landfills, which are about 60 million euros and we hope that by the end of 2024 it will be finished. It will be on this date when more or less we will have to start with the development of offshore energy ”.
-And the Next Generation funds will be used for the development of a priority project?
“We are going to present ourselves to all the funds that there are, not only to the Next Generation. But it is true that we have three initiatives that we have defined as very important. One is the completion of Granadilla, which I told you about before the ribera dock and the attached landfills; The other project that we are also going to present is that of the Santa Cruz Link Dock as a singular building, which will bring together stations for inter-island traffic and cruise passengers, and the third that we want to carry out is an electric line in the port of Santa Cruz so that cruise ships can turn off their engines and connect to the dock. We are already doing this with inter-island traffic vessels on La Gomera and La Palma, where the noise of having a ship with its engines running to generate electricity has ended ”.
-The inconvenience is one of the drawbacks of having a port integrated into the city.
“We have a port and a city that are very close together and, of course, it is undeniable that the activity of the same generates annoyances in the citizenship and it has been noticed more now with the pandemic, because by lowering the general noise level in the city, further identifies the noise from the port … “
– But there are many big cities in the same conditions and they coexist without problems.
“Obviously and, above all, in the Islands, the importance of the port is essential. 90% of the merchandise passes through the port. But look, I think we have the problem in Santa Cruz with the proximity of the port to the city, because the normal thing, if we look at the same port of Las Palmas, is that the port infrastructures develop forward, that is, towards the sea. In Tenerife, this is not the case, and this happens because of the great depth that there is and that has generated the narrow docks, because the dock that provides shelter is at the limit of where it can be built and that is why it occupies so much length of coastline. You have an example when Aida’s cruise ship docks on Avenida de Anaga, it almost looks like a building opposite another… That is why this service that I tell you about the power line is important. It will mean less noise and less pollution, in addition to the fact that the European Union already requires it for the year 2025, as well as the supply of Liquefied Natural Gas ”.
-The great question. Will we still continue to discuss in 2022 the alternative of Fonsalía for the congestion of the port of Los Cristianos?
“You have said it: it is the big question. Look, the port of Los Cristianos has a triple problem: traffic; access and exit to the port, and the scarcity of surface area and berth dimensions for ships. Note that Los Cristianos already wanted to expand in 1992 and had half the traffic it has now. And this expansion was not made because at that time the population opposed it, since they said that the expansion affected the Los Cristianos beach and they were right. What I mean by this is that Los Cristianos has a problem because its expansion possibilities are nil: the population opposes it and it is a special marine conservation area ”.
“Anyway, it is also a ZEC zone. But look, when you talk about Fonsalía, you think that it is about building a new port, and what it is about is to remove the activity from Los Cristianos to take it to Fonsalía or another place that is considered appropriate. The Government of the Canary Islands is studying these alternatives to decongest Los Cristianos, since a solution must be found for inter-island traffic with La Palma and La Gomera, and, of course, compatible with the environment. I believe that in Fonsalía the impact on the environment is less than what is currently in Los Cristianos, since the travel times are minimized, that is, from San Sebastián to Fonsalía the route is less than to Los Cristianos and so with all the Islands. So, if the times are shorter, those of coincidence with the cetaceans will be less and the contamination will also be less ”.