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Wrong assumptions and double standards in Ventspils

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Wrong assumptions and double standards in Ventspils

august 18, 2016 / News

““Ventspils nafta” termināls” Ltd (VNT) refers to the information about the transhipment volumes in Ventspils port published by Ventspils Freeport Authority on the official webpage http://www.portofventspils.lv/ of Ventspils municipality on 10 August 2016. As in previous publications, Ventspils Freeport Authority makes misleading and uninformed statements about the cargo transhipment capabilities of VNT.

VNT Managing Director Lars Pantzlaff comments: “The assessment of the terminal’s capability only by considering actual transhipment volumes is not correct. VNT represents the biggest petroleum product storage and transhipment company in Baltics, and is transhipping on average 9-10 million tons of products annually. The indicators that rather determine the potential of a terminal are not only the transhipped volumes, but also market conditions, terminal infrastructure, terminal services, operational efficiency, the competence of employees, the cost of transportation to the terminal, port performance, legislative framework and business friendliness of the environment it operates in. An assessment of all those together allows for a better judgment whether a terminal uses or can use its full potential. Therefore the statement of Ventspils Freeport Authority about the performance of VNT is not objective and misleading.”

As a company, VNT has been performing stable over the years not only in the context of cargo turnover but also with respect to safety and quality of operations, financial performance, including tax payments. Also, VNT proved its attractiveness as an employer, and its quality operations are recognised among its customers. Those aspects together are better indicators of its health.

And while VNT’s performance is within expected range, the company has already stated repeatedly that it sees opportunities to grow its business, which can be achieved better if the local environment  is more supportive of the company to run and develop its business. This refers to environmental projects, such as the Vapour Recovery Unit (VRU) sought by VNT.

Ventspils Freeport Authority and city officials point out that cargo volumes are decreasing and therefore welcome new cargoes of any type coming to Ventspils port. However, the same city officials raise serious public concerns about VNT’s plans to expand its range of products for transhipment, even though those products are meant to be handled only in connection with the VRU the company is trying to install for a long time. VNT emphasises that such operation with the same products is already being performed by other companies in Ventspils Freeport and hence it cannot be considered either as anything new or as harmful.

Double standards

The application of different standards by local authorities to businesses in Ventspils are also clearly documented via official resources. For instance, specific port companies are able to operate without permits for polluting activities despite public complaints and legal requirements.

VNT considers compliance with state and local regulations a non-negotiable and integral part of its business. However, such individual cases within the same operating environment suggest that there is significant room for interpretation by local authorities as to how to treat applications by different companies and thus distorting development possibilities in Ventspils.

VNT has repeatedly emphasised that it encounters a number of bureaucratic obstacles with respect to its temporary and permanent VRU projects that not only delay implementation of good environmental practices but also affect cargo volumes and transhipment efficiency.

Lars Pantzlaff states: “Overall, VNT fully supports the growth and new operations in Ventspils Freeport, because the port’s performance is beneficial for the city and the state. However, the application of equal standards would contribute more to the development of the port, as well as enhancing transparency and predictability. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Ventspils.”