Eemshaven: expansion and diversification



Leendert Bourgonjen, Project Manager, & Bart van der Kolk, Sustainability Coordinator, Groningen Seaports, Delfzijl, The Netherlands


The Port of Eemshaven is located in the northeast of the Netherlands, and has undergone extremely rapid development since 2002. This seaport and the seaport in Delfzijl are both managed by Groningen Seaports.

In 2002, Groningen Seaports decided proactively to create a wharf facility at Julianahaven. This investment decision heralded a turbulent period of growth. Holland Malt, a consortium of beer brewer Bavaria and Agrifirm, decided to establish its business here during construction of the wharf, which was followed each year by more new companies. Large companies such as Norned (an alliance between TenneT and Stattnett), Theo Pouw, Google, Nuon and RWE have expressed an interest and also decided to establish themselves at Eemshaven.

Origin and location

Eemshaven is situated about 20 kilometers to the north of Delfzijl, and was developed at the end of the 1960s for large-scale activities in the oil refinery and petrochemicals industries. The seaport was opened by Queen Juliana in 1973, but an oil crisis followed the very same year and the planned industries failed to materialize. Europe’s biggest gas-fired power station did arrive, however; and in 1975 a start was made with the construction of a 600-metre trade wharf, behind which a number of storage and transshipment companies established themselves. But no more large clients were destined to arrive at the Port until the beginning of this century.

Eemshaven has a direct connection to the open sea and is currently accessible to vessels with a maximum draught of 12 meters. Once various dredging projects have been completed by Groningen Seaports in the seaport, and by Rijkswaterstaat (the Directorate General for Public Works and Water Management) in the approaches, Eemshaven will be accessible to vessels with a maximum draught of 14 meters.

Western side of the seaport

The western side of the seaport has three harbor basins. Beatrixhaven is located on the northern side. Queen Beatrix officially opened the first phase of this seaport in 2008, with a 350-meter wharf on the southern side. In 2010, this seaport was extended with a 350- meter harbor basin and wharf. The seaport is intended for short-sea shipping for cargo flows with Northern Europe. The construction of the wharves and the dredging were carried out separately and successively, which made it possible to build the wharves on land. The engineering for a further enlargement of the harbor to a maximum of 1200 meters is approaching completion.

Julianahaven is situated to the south of Beatrixhaven. This 1200- meter seaport has a depth varying from NAP -15 meters to NAP -17 meters. The seaport has both northern and southern wharves. In 2008, the northern wharf was doubled when a 350-meter wharf was built. The final phase of the northern wharf (over 350 meters) is currently under construction. For the construction of the final two phases and the wharves in Beatrixhaven, Groningen Seaports has opted for a building method in which the front of the wharf is constructed using prefabricated concrete.

The arrival of Vopak Olie at Eemshaven will necessitate the construction of a jetty on the western side of the seaport. A design has already been completed in anticipation of Vopak Olie’s expected decision, which means that the construction of this 420-meter jetty can commence in 2011. Since vessels with a length of 280 meters and a beam of 45 meters will be mooring on the northern side of this jetty, the existing RoRo jetty, with a maximum bearing capacity of 300 tons and a width of 18 meters between the collision protectors, will need to be relocated. During this relocation, it will also be established whether the bearing capacity and the width can be increased so that even more vessels can make use of this facility in the future.

Finally, Emmahaven is situated to the south of Julianahaven. All of Eemshaven’s ports are named after our royal dynasty. A 30-year-old wharf in this port was revitalized in 2009. A floating jetty for inland shipping and fishing vessels is currently being replaced here. A new floating service jetty is being built for the pilot service and the sounding vessels.

Eastern side of the seaport

On the eastern side of the seaport there is currently just one harbor basin: Wilhelminahaven. This harbor basis has a length of 700 meters and a maximum depth of NAP -17 meters. A public unloading dock for inland shipping and small coasters is located on the southern side. There is also currently a large building site on the eastern side of the seaport.

As well as the construction of the power stations of Nuon (1200 MW) and RWE (1600 MW), Groningen Seaports is working on extending Wilhelminahaven by about 600 meters. A deep-sea wharf of 1250 meters is also being built with a trough depth of NAP -18 meters. All of this is scheduled for completion at the end of 2011 so that the first coal vessels can be received. A complicating factor is that the cooling water inlets for both Nuon and RWE are being built on the northern and southern wharves respectively.

In addition to the establishment of these two power companies, a lot of energy is already being generated at Eemshaven. As well as Electrabel (2400 MW) and Norned (900 MW), there are 88 wind turbines at Eemshaven, each with a maximum output of 3 MW. The presence of this energy production forms the basis for the establishment of the data hotel for TCN Eemsdelta, which is used principally by Google. The landing terminal of a transatlantic fiber optic cable is also located at Eemshaven.

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