Sines is already considered among Europe's largest ports

Potential of Sines to become Portugal’s strategic hub 

“A kaleidoscope of opportunities” awaits, extolls minister

Portugal’s minister of economy and the sea, António Costa Silva, was in Sines yesterday, enthusing about the future the port could have – a future that has been ‘blessed’ in a way by the European move away from Russia as a source for fossil fuels.

But before he waxed lyrical about Sines, he had some words on the ongoing ‘Lisbon airport controversy’.

When Costa Silva speaks there is always that tentative intake of breath. Is he going to suggest another windfall tax? Or a return to oil and gas drilling off the coast of the Algarve

This time, it wasn’t so bad. His observations were that Portugal ‘should not become a country of indecision’ (a label that in many ways fits perfectly).

“We have been discussing the airport issue for 50 years”, he said (if that is not indecision, it is difficult to imagine what is).“This is completely irrational”, he continued. “When we look at the variables that have the greatest impact on the performance of the Portuguese economy, air connectivity is one of them.”

The minister was speaking at a conference dubbed ‘Fora da Caixa’ (Out of the Box) organised by state-owned bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos “to debate the opportunities available to Portugal’s economy, and focusing”, explains Lusa, “on the energy sector and strategic location of Sines”.

In response to a question about the debate around Lisbon’s international airport, and plans to create a new terminal at Montijo, Costa Silva stressed that everything that can be done “to strengthen our air connectivity is important” – warning that a second airport “is central to the development of the Portuguese economy”.

“This debate is not only overdue, it is already outdated”, he said. “What is important is that we have the ability, in addition to identifying problems, to take decisions to solve them.”

On the potential of Sines in the current European context, Costa Silva described the industrial and port hub as “a kaleidoscope of opportunities“. 

By the end of the decade, he believes the port “could be a major goods port” with an importance that goes beyond Portugal’s borders.

Sines can be one of the largest ports of goods in Europe and perhaps the world,” he told reporters. “We have today in Sines a handling potential of about 2.3 million containers. The existing expansion will give us four million containers very soon and, by 2030, with the new pier, we will have capacity in Sines to handle eight million containers.”

In Costa Silva’s opinion, Sines could also become “the port of ‘green shipping’ “due to the “increasing demands on the type of fuels used by ships” imposed by the International Maritime Authority; projects linked to “hydrogen, green ammonia and methanol (will) be essential” as a result.

“When we look at investments, excluding public investment, today there are about €17  billion euros of investment mapped out in Sines,” he said. “One is for the logistics hub, for the port, for the extension of the pier, about €1 billion, but we have €3.5 billion of investment in Sines that are programmed in the undersea cables and data processing centres.”

According to the minister, Sines can also be “a platform for the energy transformation of the country and Europe”. 

Costa Silva highlighted investments in renewable energy “from traditional players” such as Portugal’s Galp and EDP and Spain’s Repsol, to new investors such as Madoqua Power2x and Iberdrola “with green steel” in Sines’ industrial complex.

“The renewable energy potential here is extraordinary,” he insisted. “If we can bridge and collate all these valences, this can be really transformative. And the manifestations of investment are there, some of these projects are already moving forward and I hope that from the licensing point of view – response from public administration/ interaction with the various authorities-  things will work well.”

Source material: Lusa/ natasha.donn@portugalresident.com