VNT Managing Director Lars Pantzlaff comments: «The assessment of the terminal’s capability only by considering actual transshipment volumes is not correct. VNT represents the biggest petroleum product storage and transshipment company in Baltics, and is transshipping on average 9-10 million tons of products annually. The indicators that rather determine the potential of a terminal are not only the transshipped volumes, but also market conditions, terminal infrastructure, terminal services, operational efficiency, the competence of employees, the cost of transportation to the terminal, port performance, legislative framework and business friendliness of the environment it operates in. An assessment of all those together allows for a better judgement whether a terminal uses or can use its full potential. Therefore the statement of Ventspils Freeport Authority about the performance of VNT is not objective and misleading.»
As a company, VNT has been performing stable over the years not only in the context of cargo turnover but also with respect to safety and quality of operations, financial performance, including tax payments. Also, VNT proved its attractiveness as an employer, and its quality operations are recognized among its customers. Those aspects together are better indicators of its health.
And while VNT’s performance is within expected range, the company has already stated repeatedly that it sees opportunities to grow its business, which can be achieved better if the local environment is more supportive of the company to run and develop its business. This refers to environmental projects, such as the Vapour Recovery Unit (VRU) sought by VNT.
Ventspils Freeport Authority and city officials point out that cargo volumes are decreasing and therefore welcome new cargoes of any type coming to Ventspils port. However, the same city officials raise serious public concerns about VNT’s plans to expand its range of products for transshipment, even though those products are meant to be handled only in connection with the VRU the company is trying to install for a long time. VNT emphasizes that such operation with the same products is already being performed by other companies in Ventspils Freeport and hence it cannot be considered either as anything new or as harmful.
The application of different standards by local authorities to businesses in Ventspils are also clearly documented via official resources. For instance, specific port companies are able to operate without permits for polluting activities despite public complaints and legal requirements.
VNT considers compliance with state and local regulations a non-negotiable and integral part of its business. However, such individual cases within the same operating environment suggest that there is significant room for interpretation by local authorities as to how to treat applications by different companies and thus distorting development possibilities in Ventspils.
VNT has repeatedly emphasized that it encounters a number of bureaucratic obstacles with respect to its temporary and permanent VRU projects that not only delay implementation of good environmental practices but also affect cargo volumes and transshipment efficiency.
Lars Pantzlaff states: «Overall, VNT fully supports the growth and new operations in Ventspils Freeport, because the port’s performance is beneficial for the city and the state. However, the application of equal standards would contribute more to the development of the port, as well as enhancing transparency and predictability. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Ventspils.»
VNT provides transit services – receipt, storage and handling of crude oil and petroleum products that come by pipelines, rail tank cars and tankers. VNT is a technologically advanced terminal and the largest crude oil and petroleum products transshipment company in the Baltic States with a total tank capacity of 1.2 million cubic meters. 51% of VNT is owned by JSC Ventspils nafta, which is one of the largest business groups in Latvia.