An Innovative Ship Repair Zone in Piraeus Prepares for the Future

 Much has been reported in recent years about the fiscal crisis in Greece and in one of its major industrial sectors, the ship repair industry. Some shipyards are in bankruptcy. Substantial EU restrictions have been imposed on others. Union issues and more affect the sector. But crisis creates opportunities.

 The LNG retrofit requirements are such an opportunity for Greek shipyards as well as for shipowners we will discuss in this article

Greece is in one of the most heavily trafficked routes of sea trade, connecting Asia with North Europe. This has given Greece competitive advantages in terms of the ship repair business. Also, the fact that this small European Union country (the only one in the region till lately) also offers a secure and safe infrastructure for combined transportation services (ship, air, road, train) provides yet another competitive advantage.

 

During the last 50 years, a lot of infrastructure has been developed in the Ship Repairing Zone of Piraeus, leading to the continuous use of two floating and two drydocks, the establishment of around 475 companies (200 steel and piping, 80 mechanical works, 70 painting & sandblasting, 50 electrical works, 20 wood works, 30 other, 25 yacht and mega-yacht shipyards), totaling around 5,000 employees, with about 500 million euros annual turnover in 2011.

Also, Schisto Industrial Park has been developed (2003) as a new and innovative common effort of 70 industrial units with an active workforce that exceeds 3,000 employees. Main areas of park activities include workshops, mechanical applications, ship and industrial repairs, pipe fittings, electrical applications, engine rebuilding, foundries, spare part fabrication, interior fittings, etc.

The Ship Repairing Zone of Piraeus combined with the Schisto Industrial Park provides great geographic location, great weather conditions all year long, great shipping tradition, history and expertise, excellent quality of work (famous worldwide), skilled personnel, innovative products/special projects implementation, green technology products, European Union standards, solid infrastructure, safe environment (ISPS) in a safe, low-crime country, effective time management, and average cost project delivery with high-value end-products.

Of course, we are not living in an ideal world, so not everything is perfect. As in many European countries, we have bureaucratic issues and a complicated legal environment. We anticipate problems with the unions. We have intense competition from our neighbors, and so on. However, we put great effort into resolving these issues and correcting our mistakes and disabilities so that our customers are not adversely affected. 

Currently a wide variety of new products has been developed in the area, solving several problems of the present and future, such as (a) modern high-tech ballast water treatment systems, (b) floating wind power generators, (c) unsinkable floating platforms, and (d) hybrid small yachts.

 

 

The challenges we face are multidimensional. Shipbuilding and ship repair are international businesses with increasing demand for “modern” ships, i.e., LNG-fuelled, hybrids, etc. The market for yachts and megayachts is booming despite the crisis. There is and there will be a substantial increase in the cruise Industry in Greece. There is a worldwide increase in ships of Greek ownership. And there are several opportunities for European Union subsidies and funding from the National Strategic Reference Framework.

By Apostolos Sigouras

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