From ship registrations to container transport and cold storage capacity, from export volumes and maritime services to harbor development — pushed by increasing quantities of fish to handle, the Faroese are upping the ante.
Yes, the Faroese are aware of the ongoing recession and yes, it’s hurting some businesses. Overall, nonetheless, the economic situation looks highly encouraging for three vital sectors — seafood, energy, and maritime services — as reflected in unprecedented investments. Besides, the export infrastructure is being further underpinned by the improved air travel connectivity resulting from the recent extension of the Vagar Airport and associated fleet development at Atlantic Airways.
After surviving the rough seas of Iceland’s economic crisis a few years ago, freight carrier Eimskip — the owner of Faroe Ship — is back on track with improved container services for the Faroe Islands. To meet rapidly growing demand from the pelagic fishing industry and aquaculture, the company has added Scotland and Poland to its weekly sailing schedule, making it convenient for exporters of farmed salmon to ship via Scotland to London for long-haul air freight to destinations in America and Asia, and cost-effective for exporters of pelagic fish to send large quantities of frozen seafood direct to Poland, close to the German border.
Faroe Ship thereby joins Fresh Link in offering scheduled sailings to Scotland, a service that the company used to maintain for many years up until 2008. This means there are now several sea freight routes between the Faroe Islands and the United Kingdom, as well as to the European continent and to Scandinavia and Iceland, with further access to transoceanic services.
Marginal savings per transport unit, however, can have great impact on the bottom line, which is why exporters of relatively cheap products look for alternatives to the relatively costly use of containers. This makes the chartering of bulk freighters, for example, a viable option in many cases.
With in-house expertise and experience in international shipping and associated services, Faroe Agency assists international vessels calling at Faroese ports with freight forwarding, port operations, technical management and numerous related issues.
Old dream: One such associated service is cold storage — in high demand because of the huge amounts of pelagic fish that are currently being landed and processed in the Faroe Islands. One of a handful of cold storage facilities in the country, Fuglafjørður’s Bergfrost, the largest of them, is increasing its capacity significantly to enable its clients to store frozen goods there for longer periods of time. This can make a difference for logistics by reducing the need to ship goods to larger facilities abroad for long-term cold storage.
No stranger to dealing with large quantities of marine products, the Port of Fuglafjørður, a major hub for the pelagic fishing industry, is looking to complete the pelagic value chain by having a freezing plant built there — an old dream from back in day when the Havsbrún fishmeal factory was opened, in the 1960s. The port hosts a wide range of services, including a world-renowned developer and manufacturer of fishing gear, an internationally recognized agent for Baader seafood processing machinery, and a bunker facility.
Attracting shipowners: The Port of Tvøroyri, on the other hand, is home to the latest processing plant for pelagic food fish, opened in mid 2012. As logistical challenges mount, new harbor development is underway to facilitate exports, with the associated cold storage capacity increased as well. The mayor, Kristin Michelsen, says: “This could be one of the most important undertakings ever for our small community and people are highly appreciative and supportive of the further development that has been announced.”
Along with the country’s largest seafood exporter, the Faroe Islands’ only active oil supply base, Atlantic Supply Base, is located in the Port of Runavík, where some mammoth developments could be underway soon. Depending on events in the oil and gas exploration activities offshore the Faroes, a 500,000 square meter supply base is being planned as well as a 200,000 m2 container storage area, by far the largest in the Faroe Islands.
The oil and gas industry represents a growing portion of the clientele of MEST, the Faroe Islands’ leading shipyard company, with the country’s two largest yards at Tórshavn and Skála, respectively. As CEO Mouritz Mohr says: “The amount and quality of services you can get in the Faroes is something that seems to amaze many foreigners. They just can’t get their heads around that with only 50,000 inhabitants we can still do so many things while meeting high international standards.”
Merchant shipping, meanwhile, has been the subject of growing political and commercial interest ever since 2008, when the Faroe Islands International Ship Register (FAS) was revised in an attempt to make it more attractive for international shipowners, fiscally and otherwise. Signs are the effort could be beginning to pay off as the number of vessels joining the open registry has increased by 172 percent, with vessels from Sweden and Norway in the lead.