The Malta Independent 18 May 2021, Tuesday

Watch: Maltese company expanding Latvia container terminal, logistics hub operations

Neil Camilleri Tuesday, 25 June 2019, 09:56 Last update: about 3 years ago

Hili Company is investing heavily to expand operations at its container terminal and logistics hub facilities in Riga, the Latvian capital.

During a recent press trip to the facilities it was explained that the group is increasing the size of the quay at its Baltic Container Terminal. The facility will also be getting a new ship-to-shore crane and the warehousing facilities there are also being expanded.

The company acquired the Riga facility in 1996 and runs it through its subsidiary Mariner.


CEO Edward Hili and director Gerard Sammut explained that BCT handles two thirds of all container cargo in Latvia. The main market is Russia but the facility also serves other eastern European countries and is also regularly used by NATO to ferry military assets in and out of the region.

The majority of cargo unloaded at BCT is sent to its final destination by truck but the facility is also served by a railroad and is equipped with a number of gantry cranes used to load containers onto train trucks.

The quay, currently 450 metres long, is set to be extended by 50 metres and eventually by another 200 metres. At full length, the quay will be able to accommodate two large vessels simultaneously. This is significant because container vessels are getting larger in size, Edward Hili explained. Work on the quay extension project is expected to start in 2020.

The works will include dredging of the river floor to reach a depth of 14 metres.

The container yard area will also be extended by another 8,000 ground slots.

The facility currently has four ship-to-shore (STS) cranes but a fifth one is on order. This will be the second crane of this size at the facility, and will be able to service wider vessels. The new crane costs around €6 million.

Works are currently underway on a new 11,000 square metre warehousing block. The facility is fully insulated and heated and is equipped with railway ramp and connected to railway system.

All existing warehousing is leased out and parts of the new warehouse are already pre-booked.

Total warehousing at BCT will be 42,000 square metres, once the ongoing project is completed.

Over recent years we have seen quite significant growth in volumes at BCT. We are handling around 300,000 TEUs a year and we're seeing the need to undertake the next phase of development of the terminal, which will also allow us to handle larger vessels. The €30 million investment incorporates the warehousing, quay extension and the purchase of a new crane. It will be completed over the next three years or so," Hili said.

It was explained that BCT uses the most advanced cargo terminal system available worldwide, with a real-time system that monitors ship, truck and container movements.

Mariner also runs a container terminal in Venice - the Terminal Intermodale Venezia - in a joint venture with MSC. It is today the leading container terminal in Venice, handling over 300,000 TEUs (twenty foot container equivalent). This terminal will also be acquiring an additional mobile harbour crane and will be updating its software system.

Another subsidiary, Mariner Logistics, owns and operates over 65,000 square metres of covered warehousing in Latvia and Italy. The group recently acquired the Elipse facility in Riga, which covers an area of over 30,000 square metres.

It comprises of 26,950 square metres of covered warehousing, including refrigeration facilities, and 4,000 metres of office space, all of which are rented out to third parties. The company is in the process of adding additional warehousing space.

The facility, strategically located close to Riga International Airport, has access roads that are directly linked to the Baltic highway network.

Edward Hili explained that the warehouse is split into three, each with 12,000 to 13,000 pallet spaces. Each warehouse has gates on both sides to receive and dispatch cargo. There are also foundations for another 10,000 square metres of warehousing, Hili said, adding that there is strong demand for the extra space.

Hili Energy, another of the group's companies, is currently investing in 2.4MW solar farm in Benghajsa, having entered into a 20-year energy selling agreement with Enemalta.

It is also investing in a 1.0MW biomass gasification cogeneration plant in Croatia - the facility will generate energy and heat from woodchips - with plans for two or possibly three more such facilities in the country. The Malta solar farm costs 4 million euro and the Croatia facilities cost around €6 million each.

The company is also eyeing possible wind technology investments in the future, Hili explained.

Hili Company also owns Hili Twenty Two, a real estate company owning a number of properties internationally, Lady Gio, a 47-metre luxury yacht offering scheduled excursions around the Maltese Islands, and operates the Manoel Island Yacht Yard and the Manoel Island Yacth Marina in a joint venture.

However, the focus, Edward Hili explained, will remain on the terminal sector, which is the company's core business.




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