The information publicly announced by Ventspils Freeport Authority about VNT’s activities related to the conclusion of the contract on a lease of the land plot for installation of the Vapour Recovery Unit (VRU) and the invitation for VNT to participate in the development of the Freeport Regulations does not reflect the real situation, VNT evaluated.
VNT re-confirmed that on February 22 VNT and JSC Ventbunkers submitted a joint application for the direct lease of the land plot in the area of jetties intended for the installation of the permanent VRU to the Ventspils Freeport Authority for the review.
In its first reply, Ventspils Freeport Authority informed VNT that the matter will be discussed during one of the upcoming meetings of Ventspils Freeport Board. However, on April 12, VNT received a letter from Ventspils Freeport Authority stating that due to the arrest of JSC Ventbunkers shares in 2008 it cannot decide upon the joint application until this matter is settled in the legal manner.
Taking this into account, VNT addressed the criminal court board of Riga Regional Court on April 26 and received its ruling on May 10. The ruling stated that Ventspils Freeport Authority has the right and authority to make any decisions related to the land plot in its possession and leased to JSC Ventbunkers.
VNT informed BNN that on May 13, VNT submitted the document issued by the criminal court board of Riga Regional Court to Ventspils Freeport Authority, although Ventspils Freeport Authority should have requested and received this court resolution itself if doubting its rights or authority to decide upon the land plot possessed by Ventspils Freeport which would have saved significant time in the process.
For years, Ventspils City Council and Ventspils Freeport Authority have been continuously emphasizing to VNT the need to install a VRU. However, VNT has not seen neither Ventspils City Council nor Ventspils Freeport Authority showing any urgency to amend the Freeport regulations and include new requirements as to the VRU installation. Sudden urgency occurred only after VNT had publicly announced its firm plans to build the permanent VRU by November 2017.
In February 2016, Ventspils Freeport Authority invited Ventspils Freeport operators, also VNT, to participate in a meeting as to the plan of Ventspils Freeport to develop a smell reduction program considering the problem of smells during the loading of petroleum products.
During the initial meeting on February 4, Ventspils Freeport Authority assured the port terminals that they will be updated on progress related to this subject. As a follow-up, one week later, VNT was visited by the consultancy firm, appointed by Ventspils Freeport Authority, to gather further information for its research work. VNT emphasizes it has not received further invitations to any other meetings on this subject and was not aware of three meetings taking place, the company said.
Since February 2016, despite several inquiries by VNT as to the progress of the development of the program, regretfully no information regarding this subject has been shared by Ventspils Freeport Authority with VNT.
VNT stressed that that on May 27, Ventspils Freeport Authority proposed to Ventspils City Council to make amendments to the Ventspils binding regulations No 9 «Ventspils Freeport Regulations» of March 2 2012, without approaching VNT during the development of the regulations, even though for already six months VNT has been trying to receive answers in connection with its efforts to install a temporary and permanent VRU.
After the amendments to the Freeport Regulations were passed by Ventspils Freeport Authority on May 27, VNT asked Ventspils City Council on June 8 to share the content of the document with VNT. On June 30 Ventspils City Council informed VNT that the draft amendments are still under the review, pending confirmation, and that the regulations would be available on the municipal webpage as soon as the final wording is developed.
At the moment VNT, representing the biggest transhipment company for oil products in the Baltics, contributing 70 % of all liquid cargo in Ventspils port and 40 % in Latvia, still is neither aware of any new requirements nor the foreseen transition period to comply with new requirements. Moreover, VNT remains unaware when this information will be available. This situation not only hampers the schedule of the VRU project, but also has a negative impact on stability of performing business in the Ventspils port.
Reportedly, Ventspils Freeport Authority has noted that VNT is misleading the public on the operations of the Freeport Authority and Ventspils City Council. At the Freeport Authority, it has been said that for it to be able to issue technical regulations for installing the VRU, amendments to Ventspils Freeport Authority regulations – setting forth, which equipment for limiting the spread of odour are to be installed – are needed.
«We drafted amendments to the regulations at a quick pace, involving leading experts and the most efficient solutions in other ports. In addition, we held a snap sitting on May 27 to adopt the regulations faster than the schedule of regular board sittings would allow us to.
Currently, the regulations have been sent for approval to the responsible ministry. Once adopted, they will be mandatory to every terminal operating at the Ventspils Freeport, including VNT. These are the regulations that can be the basis for issuing technical regulations on installing VRU,» reads a statement by the Freeport.
It has also been added that the Ventspils Freeport Authority is expecting information from VNT on the exact planned location of VRU to carefully evaluate the technical aspects of the arrangement of structures.
The Freeport also said it does not understand claims by the management of VNT that the Ventspils City Council is delaying the development of companies, since the support of the municipality, according to Freeport representatives, has often been crucial to carrying out projects in the territory of the Freeport.
Reportedly, 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 transhipment 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. JSC Ventspils nafta is the group’s parent company, which manages the investments in group companies, contributing to the total value and appreciation of each individual company.