Bergfrost doubles its cold storage capacity from 8,000 to 15,000 tonnes — promising savings for clients looking to avoid the cost of transferring frozen goods to mainland Europe for long-term storage.
In response to the pressure from hundreds of thousands of tonnes of pelagic fish for human consumption expected to be landed in the Faroe Islands this year (2013), several of the larger cold stores in the country are increasing their storage capacity. The largest one, Fuglafjørður’s Bergfrost will have virtually doubled its capacity by June, according to managing director Símin Pauli Sivertsen.
Bergfrost’s significant expansion is part of a development program initiated in 2012, aimed at fortifying the company’s already strong position in the cold storage business through the purchase of three storage halls, two of whom the company had leased earlier. There is also the option to add further two halls within the same complex of mountain tunnels, and the potential to equip the cold store with a total capacity of a whopping 25,000 tonnes.
“We’re taking one step at the time,” Mr. Sivertsen said. “The first thing is the addition of the third hall, which adds a storage capacity of 7,000 tonnes to the 8,000 we already have. This means we will be able to store 15,000 tonnes of frozen goods already by June this year, if everything goes according to plan.”
Another item in the development program is the computerization of the cold store’s refrigeration machinery, Mr. Sivertsen said.
“We’re installing a new system that will optimize the use of energy, and this is an important step as the price of power is rising further. We have opted for an advanced system to automatically monitor and regulate the temperature of each section of our cold storage halls. Without that level of control, power costs will easily rise especially when we regulate temperatures.”
The mountain rock that surrounds Bergfrost’s storage halls offers unmatched insulation and will keep temperatures stable for a relatively long time even should an emergency occur involving a prolonged power outage. There is a flip side, however: regulating the temperature in this environment is relatively expensive as it requires high use of power.
“We are very keen on optimizing the entire process,” Mr. Sivertsen said. “At the same time, we had to do something about the power situation which might have led to serious increases in the utility bill had it not been for the new control system that we’re installing now.”
‘Get things done’: Quick customer service is crucial for Bergfrost’s survival, he added. “We need to be swift and effective, both when we place goods into the cold store on behalf of our clients and when we remove their goods for transfer. For example, when we land a pelagic vessel during the mackerel or blue whiting season, things cannot go quick enough — they hardly have time to come to shore to land their catch so they tend to get edgy about spending too much time on anything else but fishing itself. For some, it’s as if they want services to be completed already when they dock the vessel. Now, we are quick so we can discharge a freezer trawler at a pace of well over 100 tonnes per hour. Conversely we can load a vessel at even higher speed.”
Last year Bergfrost received 35,000 tonnes of frozen fish products, most of it pelagic species.
“Taking 35,000 tonnes in also means taking 35,000 tonnes out, which implies a workload of 70,000 tonnes. That is a huge amount of fish but we are expecting even larger quantities now. As we are increasing our storage capacity quite remarkably, our clients will be offered more flexible arrangements and longer storage time. It will now be possible for them to keep long-term storage with us, as an alternative to transferring their goods for further cold storage somewhere in Europe before the goods are going to market.”
As for that crucial time factor, many consider Fuglafjørður to be an unbeatable location for the pelagic industry. For example, Bergfrost is situated next to a bunker station on the one side, and on the other a giant fishmeal factory whose main product is feed for farmed salmon. In the same vicinity, there is the pelagic department of an international designer and manufacturer of fishing gear; and only a few meters away from there, a specialist in repairing Baader equipment has its headquarters.
“It means the world for a vessel to be able to get things done in one port rather than going from one to the other because there are huge costs associated with fuel, time and effort.”