Bulgaria’s two largest ports, Varna and Bourgas, are expected to post relatively strong growth in their cargo throughputs this year, as both container and dry bulk volumes increase.
But both ports need to modernise their infrastructure if their mediumterm and long-term goals to compete as gateways to the Balkans and Central Europe are to be realised. Beijingbased China Harbour Engineering Co (CHEC) is keen to make this happen.
In August, Port of Varna EAD, which owns the port, issued a €2.5M tender for the reconstruction of the port’s main infrastructure. According to the country’s Public Procurement Agency, the port company wants to enter into a framework agreement with up to three potential contractors, with the planned work taking place over a three-year period.
CHEC is among the companies that have responded to the tender. But Bulk Materials International understands that CHEC is not only interested in bidding for the construction, dredging and reclamation work that would be involved in the port’s rehabilitation and any modernisation of its cargo handling facilities, but also in direct investment and operations in the port of Varna.
CHEC has, for instance, expressed an interest in developing an industrial/ export processing zone for grain, which is one of the main cargoes handled by Varna. With acreages under wheat in Eastern and Central Europe increasing, and China buying more grain from this region, there is significant potential for projects of this nature.
At the smaller port of Bourgas, which is located about 115 km south of Varna, refurbishment work also needs to be carried out. In June, this port received backing from the European Commission (EC), to the tune of €2.3M, for final design work related to improving its infrastructure associated with the EC’s Orient/East Mediterranean transport corridor.
CHEC is a sister company to crane maker ZPMC through its parent, China Communication Construction Corporation (CCCC).