Infrastructural Development Of Le Havre Port Commerce Essay


Le Havre port of France as discussed earlier is located at a very strategic area along the English Channel. This makes it the first point of call to round trip large liner ships and at the same time providing shortest transit-time for intercontinental trade. Asia being the first market served account for 60% of Le Havre ports market share, 25% of its business is carried out with the Americas and the remaining 15% is split among emerging markets like Brazil and India. Because of the major market it serves, the port of Le Havre management has improved on infrastructure development over the years, to a high quality shipping service. Gourdin (2006) argued that "the ability of shippers to select choice of port depends directly on the level of infrastructure available at each port." This in turn has tremendously improved the activities of growing markets like Brazil and India. Therefore, this section will analyse how a port of such calibre and location advantage, has been able to keep up and stay competitive with the far eastern seaports widely acclaimed by experts to have performed better than European ports in recent times. Are the facilities in Le Havre port provided in the appropriate location and at the right price to attract customers?


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The activities that take place at the port of Le Havre are divided into five major categories, thereby making up its major ports put together. They include liquid bulks port for oil and gas, dry bulks port for coal, iron ore and agricultural produce, general cargo port for containerised traffic, RO-RO trade, as well as conventional general cargo like parcels and foodstuff products. Others include port facilities for dangerous goods such as toxic chemicals and corrosive products and finally, the cross-channel terminal for passenger traffic; home and destination for the biggest cruise liners in world.

It should be noted however at this point, that the range of terminals available is strategically responsible for large trade between Le Havre port and Asia. Take china for example, as manufacturing becomes pivotal to its economy, the world's attention is all focused on china trade. Being the largest consumer of iron ore in the world (UNCTAD 2010), Chinese importers will definitely be attracted to a port like Le Havre. Asteris and Collins (2007) quoted Milne (2003) "In the period 1991 and 2001 China/Hong Kong alone increased its share of world visible exports by 60%. The port has also embarked on infrastructural development programmes, such as the project "Port 2000" which will be discussed later on.


Due to its importance to the French economy with reference to the importation of crude oil, the port of Le Havre provides state of the earth infrastructure for the handling and processing of liquid bulk. Facilities and deep draught terminals are provided for oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), chemicals and petrochemicals, non-dangerous bulks like lubricants and so on. The magnitude and significance of these facilities are further discussed here in respectively, as well as highlighting the management of the terminals which is through concession agreement over a period of time. THE OIL PORTS OF LE HAVRE

Located on two discrete sites, the oil ports of Le Havre that is the port of Le Havre -Antifer and the oil port of Le Havre, are designed and built to take in all vessels, from large oil tankers of 550,000dwt (dead weight ton) to coasters. The latter, with a draught of more than 45.30 metres and made up of eight specialized berths is located at the south end of Le Havre port and has the capability to receive 230,000dwt ships, as well as a 280,000dwt for tankers. This facility managed under a concessionaire agreement by the "Compagnie Industrielle Maritime" (CIM), handles and stock up crude oil as well as refined produce it re-ships either by vessels or pipeline. Transhipment activities are also carried out from large vessels onto smaller ones. De-ballasting and gas-freeing operations are also done at this port. CIM however boasts of a 3.7 million cubic metre storage capacity devoted to world spot market. It is also provided with 20 articulated arms and four arms for bottom loading.

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The Le Havre - Antifer on the other hand is at the foot of the cliff directly facing the English Channel is also managed by CIM. Consisting of two wharves constructed in the shelter of a storm protection breakwater, the west berth accommodates vessels 310 metres long, while the eastern berth is easily reached by ships more than 270 metres long. 644,000 cubic metres is available for storage of oil and fuel supplies and the unloading equipment has a capacity of 25,000 cubic metres per hour therefore making it feasible to offload a 550,000dwt ship in less than 30 hours. However, offloaded oil from the port of Antifer is transferred to the tanks at the oil port of Le Havre for storage and transfer to refineries. Transhipment is also done from wharf to wharf as well as from ship to ship. FACILITIES FOR LIQUEFIED PETROLEUM GAS

The infrastructures available at this facility include a wharf accessible to gas tankers of about 250 meters long with draught of 12.30metres, refrigerated storage system with the functionality of refrigerating 35,000 cubic meters of propane at -44°c, 20,000 cubic metre for butane at -10°c, and another for propane also at -10°c. The facility is managed by Norgal Company through a concession agreement. Three underground pipelines directly connect the site to another company called "Total Raffinage" for distribution purposes. FACILITIES PROVIDED FOR CHEMICALS AND PETROCHEMICALS

Classified into dangerous and non-dangerous goods, that are given priorities any time they arrive at the destination, this infrastructure is situated in the port industrial zone in the "grand canal of Havre". Managed by LBC Sogestol, it has a storage capacity of 350,000 cubic metres for processing dangerous goods like corrosive and toxic chemicals. Equipped with two terminals that both provides 3 wharves each, the terminal one can receive vessels of up to 67,000dwt, barges and transhipment activities and also take in 7,000dwt ships in its three wharves respectively. The second terminal provides infrastructure for 9,000dwt at one of its wharves, with the other two having the capacity to accommodate 4,000dwt vessels each.

Also included are equipments for the simultaneous loading and off loading of road tankers with an individual pump system. A rail siding as well links these facilities with the post rail network and fitted with jibs for loading freight cars. LBC Sogestol ranking first class in storage and handling of class B dangerous goods also have a station to fill, store, palletize, containerize and load barrels unto trucks and freight cars. Then facility is able to conveniently store and dispatch chemicals for short or long periods on import and export basis.

In addition, facilities provided for non dangerous goods like lubricants, liquid fertilizers, glues etc. includes a 105,000 cubic metre storage facility capable of storing petrochemical products of flash point greater than 100°c. The products are received and shipped by all means of transportation which includes maritime, land and river transports; tank trucks, vessels, freight cars and barges are used. Three berths namely the Pierre Callet quay, the Roger Muenier quay and Malakoff currently supplies this facility.


Being one of the very few North-European ports that can take in bulk carriers of the capsize class, that is ships greater than 80,000dwt and fully loaded. Therefore, the port is equipped with customized terminals to handle iron ore and coal operations. Nonetheless, of these classes of terminals for such activities are the ore centre, the multi-bulks centre and the Agric-business centre.

The multi bulk centre handles direct transhipment from vessels onto barges and coasters. The centre caters for dry bulks, foodstuff products, and ore among others. The "Compagnie Industrielle des Pondéreux du Havre" (CIPHA) company is the concessionaire company managing the facilities two berths and storage. A main berth capable of receiving ships of 180dwt has a draught of 17.50 metres, while the second berth does express ex-stock loading of coasters of about 8,000dwt and 5,000dwt pusher trains of barges. The storage complex has the capacity of 2 million tones that is equipped with cutting edge mechanical methods for long term storage, mixing, grinding and re forwarding onto barges, trains as well as trucks.

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The ore centre also under the management of CIPHA situated in the tidal dock and accessible to ships of 180,000dwt and 300 metre long. This centre takes charge of processing coke and coal operations for thermal plants. A loading berth for river barge convoys and coasters as well as a main berth are among facilities provided alongside the storage capacity of 530,000 tonnes and a sorting plant for dispatching cargo with storage of 250,000 tonnes, loading berth. Also provided at the south of the tidal dock is the grain and the sugar terminals, with mechanised equipments, a gantry crane of an average of 1,750tonnes per hour used to load big grain carriers, 80,000 tonne grain silo for storage and three sugar silos of 45,000tonnes in capacity as well as another gantry crane for bulk sugar respectively.


Le Havre port due to the advantage of its nauticality and strategic location in addition to the effective and efficient Pan-European logistics is the first port of call for roundtrip ocean liner and at the same time offering the shortest transit time for intercontinental commerce. As a result of these factors, facilities are provided for big container ship particularly the over Panamaxed ships at the tidal dock anytime, day and night because of the ports accessibility twenty four hours a day, seven days a week without tidal limitations.

These facilities combined on a two major terminal sites include quays of 7.5 kilometres currently served with thirty gantries. However, development works have been initiated to construct new wharf called "Quai du Havre" with a total of 4,200 metres when completed. This project is referred to as port 2000 which will be discussed later in this report, and the funding is coming from collaboration between departments such as the French railway, Upper- Normandy Regional council, Seine Maritime area, GPMH and so on.

Important subsidiary facilities relating to containerised traffic are also provided at the Le Havre port. Groupage/degroupage centres, container rentals and repairs, parks for reefer containers etc.

the Le Havre port authority because of the ever increasing size of ships as well as the rapid growth in container shipping strives hard to meet customers' requirements by developing a strategic project framework for container traffic. Same level of priority is also given to RO-RO trade, conventional general cargoes like miscellaneous packaging modes such as barrels, parcels, cartons, cases, pallets, bundles, bolsters, bags, bales, as well as heavy lifts or bulky shipments and other non-containerised goods. Foodstuff products also thrive in the port due to the heavy presence of Rungis market which is the largest food market in the world.


Multi modal transportation according to the article 1(1) of the United Nations convention on international multi modal transport of goods 1980 also referred to as the MT convention (UNCTAD 2001), defined multimodal transport as "the means of transporting goods by at least two different modes of transportation on the basis of a multi modal transport contract". The MT convention further explains that; though multimodal transport came about as a result of the evolution of containerised shipping, they have different mean and role as otherwise perceived by stakeholders.

However, since multimodal transport involves the use of two or more transport modes, this report will analyse critically the multimodal links which include rail, water and road transport systems linking the Le Havre port to its hinterland. As well as reach a conclusion as to how available, effective and convenient these facilities are to multimodal operators.

Over the years, multimodality has been of top priority to the management of the Le Havre port. The main purpose of this is to give shippers the opportunity to take advantage of the best characteristics of all modes" Gourdin (2006). With the development of a new multimodal terminal to be commissioned in 2013, Le Havre being one of few European ports with the capacity to berth the largest container ships in the world, onward transportation of cargo to the hinterland or vice versa becomes key to its survival among competitors. Nonetheless, the port of Le Havre's multimodal links are further highlighted and discussed below.


The Le Havre port majorly served by the river Seine offers a great connection from Le Havre down the river to Paris and beyond, while accessible to 5,000 tonne barges with capacity of 352 TEU containers. Scheduled services between Le Havre port terminals and 10 other platforms sparsely distributed in the seine basin, is jointly make available by six waterways transport operators. Also available to multimodal operators in Le Havre port is the short sea service to ports in Europe cut away from direct port call of ships. Therefore, le Havre ports plays a pivotal role as a hub port in Europe for onward distribution by sea to the British isle, north, south as well as west of continental Europe.

Besides, the development of the "Canal Seine-Nord Europe" projected to be commissioned in 2012 will link and facilitate trade between France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The canal will also link major ports like Antwerp, Rouen and Rotterdam among others with Le Havre. It will accommodate ships about 4,400 tonnes large and serve as a connecting corridor to the economic regions of northern Europe. Thereby increasing the port of Le Havre's competitive advantage among European ports, as well as increase its chances as a future major hub port in Europe. The figure 1 below highlights the development better.

Source: GPMH (


The Grand Port Maritime du Havre (GPMH) in 2008 became the owner of its own port rail network. The network managed by three operators, cuts across nine major French cities and two Italian cities (Torino and Milan) in the south of France.

The authority with the aim of controlling regulations of inland connections as well as industrialising the port through the development of multimodality, in addition to its extensive rail network has now opened a new rail network linking Le Havre with south west Germany via Strasbourg. In addition, the port of Le Havre only recently concluded another project that connected it with the French national rail network.

All these efforts are to confront the challenge transport consolidation pose to operations, in order to strengthen Le Havre ports competitive advantage. The figure 1 below further illustrates this analysis.

Source: GPMH (


The port of Le Havre is linked to major road networks, two of which are very important; the A 29 and the A131. This is apart from and including the Le Havre city traffic and cross roads of motorways, and makes the port accessible to the hinterland by road. The region of Le Havre is connected with a recently built and reliable road network, distanced from the traffic congestions of northern Europe.

The Motorway A131 however, allows transit to the region of Paris in only 1 hour and 30 minutes, as well as offers direct link to Eastern France and Europe. Le Havre city being at the centre of the motorway A29, the Estuary Route linking Copenhagen to Lisbon allows stress-free access to North European business districts as well as the South European main markets. With the smooth road networks, transit time from Le Havre to any European city is between 1 - 2 days. The figure 3 below shows the road network directly outside the port of Le Havre across the river seine.

Source: GPMH (