In a few weeks from now the first ground will be broken in Antwerp for a unique port construction project, namely the largest lock in the world. This massive structure will be built at the head of the Deurganckdock on the left bank of the Scheldt. The port of Antwerp already has the biggest lock in the world, the Berendrecht lock. The new Deurganckdock lock will take over this distinction as it will be even deeper than the Berendrecht, in response to the trend towards ever-larger ships. The new lock represents an estimated investment of 340 million euros and is due to become operational in 2016.
Significance for the port
The second lock is of crucial importance for access to the port area on the left bank, assuring its further development. Because it is very deep, ships with even greater draught will be able to reach the docks behind it, for any given level of water in the Scheldt. Larger, deeper-laden ships will permit further development of economic activities on the left bank. “The importance of the new lock cannot be overemphasised,” says Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of Antwerp Port Authority. “Our sea access has already been considerably improved thanks to the deepening of the Scheldt, and now with the second lock we will be able to further develop our port on the left bank.”
Location on the left bank
The new lock will lie at the end of the Deurganckdock, giving access to the docks in the port area on the left bank. On the landward side, facing the dock complex, the lock will lead into the Waasland canal. From there the ships will have easy access to all the other docks on the left bank: the Doel dock, the Verrebroek dock, the Vrasene dock and the North and South mooring docks.
The capital cost of the new lock is estimated at 340 million euros. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has undertaken to finance 50% of the construction work, up to a maximum of 160,5 million euros. The remaining amount is being put up by the Flemish Region and the Port Authority. The creation of the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) and the development of sustainable transport modes form part of the objectives of the EIB, which is why the latter has decided to support the project. Its chairman Philippe Maystadt explained: “Maximum use has to be made of water transport, both seagoing and barge, as well as rail transport. This is an important objective for the European Union, and is all the more urgent because of the challenges facing us in the field of climate and energy. Sustainable transport with a lower ecological footprint will play a crucial role in the European economy, as well as contributing to integration within the EU and the creation of the internal market.”
Investing in port infrastructure
An additional lock on the left bank is essential in order to ensure better sea access for the port of Antwerp. Flemish minister of Transport & Public Works Hilde Crevits declared: “At the moment the only access from the sea to the dock complex is via the Kallo lock. The new investment offers a response not only to the growing volume of shipping traffic on the left bank but also the greater size of ships. Furthermore, a second lock will afford greater security of operation for what is the second largest port in Europe, helping it to maintain its competitive position.” The investment confirms the recent report by the World Economic Forum, “The Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012,” according to which the port infrastructure in Belgium is among the best in the world. “This has been made possible by the investments that the Flemish government has made in its ports,” concluded minister Crevits.
Biggest lock in the world
The new sea lock will be built on a similar design to the Berendrecht lock, with a width of 68 metres and length between gates of 500 metres. Or to put it another way, it will be as wide as a 19-lane highway and four times as long as the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp is high. Three times as much steel will be used in its construction as in the Eiffel tower. However, the Deurganckdock lock will be deeper than the Berendrecht, at 17.80 metres below the local datum level. The amount of concrete used for its construction will be enough for a building 35 floors high and covering an area the size of a football field. In other words, the new lock will be gigantic in all its dimensions. And yet the job of building it will demand precision engineering. For example the lock gates must close perfectly. The mechanism for the bridges that open must also be exact to the millimetre, as the rail tracks on the bridges and on either side must line up perfectly when the bridge opens and closes.
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Antwerp Port Authority: facts and figures
Antwerp Port Authority is an independent, municipally-owned company of the City of Antwerp, which manages the port infrastructure. It employs some 1,650 people.
The Port Authority aims to sustainably increase the added value generated by the port and to strengthen the port's competitive position. This is done through four approaches that complement one another, namely by being competitive and multifunctional (a vital port), operational, efficient and reliable (an efficient port), caring for the environment, welfare and financial health (a sustainable port), as a partner for employees, customers and society (a stakeholder port).
Port of Antwerp
Port of Antwerp: 10th-largest port in the world, 2nd-largest European port.
Maritime freight volume in 2010: 178 million tonnes (58% container, 23% liquid bulk, 11% dry bulk, 8% other conventional/breakbulk).
Number of people employed (full-time equivalents): 64.004 directly, 91.323 indirectly.
Port area: 13,057 ha, with 5,5 million m² of covered storage, 156 km of quay, 1061 km of rail track, 409 km of road and 6 locks.
Largest petrochemical cluster in Europe, largest steel and fruit port, largest volume of forest products, world import port for coffee, certified on the London and New York futures markets.
Partner in Antwerp of MAS (museum), deFilharmonie (symphony orchestra) and deSingel (arts centre).
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