New investment for innovative offshore platform to develop Venice’s port

Plans to develop Venice’s port with an offshore platform and changes to onshore facilities are progressing. In January 2013, €2.45BN was committed to this project. This was announced in an article in the Venetian newspaper La Nuova Venezia, which can be read using this link:
Tre_miliardi

The plan is to construct a four kilometre-shipping terminal in the sea of the Gulf Of Venice outside Venice’s lagoon. The design can be viewed here:
Venice Offshore Terminal Design Concept

The platform would be 15 kilometres (8 miles) off the Malamocco port mouth to the lagoon, where the seabed has a depth of 20 metres. The principal advantage of the platform is that it would allow today’s and tomorrow’s huge ships to call at the Port of Venice without entering the lagoon. Indeed, Venice would be one of the few ports where 20,000-TEU ships could berth. This would prevent the need to dredge deeper channels through the lagoon to allow such ships to reach the existing port on the mainland side of Venice’s lagoon. The offshore platform will also require the development of onshore facilities, especially a new container terminal at Marghera that would be linked to many European locations. The position of this terminal and the offshore platform can be seen in the map below, provided by Venice Port Authority:

Large ships would dock at the offshore platform to unload and/or load containers with smaller vessels then transporting containers between the platform and the onshore terminal. Also, oil tankers would be able to dock at the platform, from where oil would be pumped to the mainland oil through a 27-kilometre steel pipeline. This means that the legal requirement for oil tankers not to enter Venice’s lagoon (contained in Venice’s Special Laws) would be met. A four minute You Tube film of how the offshore docking system would work can be watched using this link:

The Environmental Impact Study for this project was presented on 20 September 2012 in the offices of the Venice Water Authority involving many key individuals, including Venice Port Authority President Paolo Costa. By reducing traffic in Venice’s lagoon and the need to dredge new channels, the platform would have a positive long-term environmental impact. However, the Environmental Impact Study of the project did identify potential short-term negative environmental impact during construction. The first phase of building the platform, oil pipe and associated work would alter habitats, create dust, noise and gas emissions. In the second phase, congestion for maritime traffic is likely and further changes to natural habitats are possible, as described in the Venetian newspaper Il Gazzettino di Venezia here:

Isola artificiale, chiatte e un oleodotto: ecco il porto merci davanti a Malamocco

As explained in my book Venice in Environmental Peril? Myth and Reality (2012), long-term environmental benefits often require short-term negative environmental impacts. Moreover, the book also sets out how this platform could play an important role in transforming Venice’s Marghera port. In addition to revitalising container and oil businesses, it is estimated that this project would create 1,200 jobs. So the human benefits of this project could be significant.

Finally, it is notable that the presentation of the offshore project did not include facilities for cruise ships docking at the platform before passengers being transported into the lagoon using smaller boats. This idea has been debated, especially since the controversy over the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Tuscany in Italy in January 2012. I outlined in the article linked below why this accident is very unlikely to be repeated in Venice due to the different way cruise ships navigate the Venetian lagoon compared with at sea:

Riding the waves of a cruise crash

In the aftermath of the Costa Concordia accident and the anniversary of this tragic event, it has been decided that cruise ships should continue to enter Venice’s lagoon, but will follow a new route through it that will take them away from St Mark’s Square. This does require the dredging of a new channel through the lagoon for cruise ships to follow as the lagoon is too shallow for them to navigate it without this. Even though the offshore platform excludes cruise ship docking, it was welcomed by Silvio Testa of the ‘No Big Ships’ committee:

“We are satisfied…because it uses our concept that the ships are incompatible with the lagoon eco-system, whether petrol tankers, cargo or passenger vessels, they must stay outside the lagoon to recover the morphology of our territory.”
(Quoted in this article published on 21 September 2012 in the local newspaper Corriere del Veneto: Offshore_crociere_Corriere)

It seems that the platform is progressing despite some environmental objections. €770,000 for the financing of the platform has been guaranteed by the European Commission, which gave its approval to the project. It will take an estimated seven years to build the project. Despite many challenges, investing in Venice’s offshore platform could be a positive example of how public-private joint projects can develop the city.

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4 Responses to “New investment for innovative offshore platform to develop Venice’s port”
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  1. […] A new cruise ship port at Marghera would also suspend consideration of constructing cruise ship docking facilities outside the lagoon with connections to transport cruise ship passengers to and from Venice using smaller vessels. This idea was considered as part of the proposal for an offshore docking platform, but has not been included in the proposed design for this platform as explained here: INNOVATIVE OFFSHORE PLATFORM TO DEVELOP VENICE’S PORT […]

  2. […] The government’s announcements in November 2013 held out that, in the long-term, a new port at Marghera and docking facilities outside the lagoon at Lido are still possible but unlikely before 2020. Similarly, the longer-term project to construct an offshore platform for cargo ships, but not cruise ships, is still an important possibility for transforming shipping in Venice, as discussed here: New investment for innovative offshore platform to develop Venice’s port […]

  3. […] The government’s announcements in November 2013 held out that, in the long-term, a new port at Marghera and docking facilities outside the lagoon at Lido are still possible but unlikely before 2020. Similarly, the longer-term project to construct an offshore platform for cargo ships, but not cruise ships, is still an important possibility for transforming shipping in Venice, as discussed here: New investment for innovative offshore platform to develop Venice’s port […]

  4. […] ships, is still an important possibility for transforming shipping in Venice, as discussed here: New investment for innovative offshore platform to develop Venice’s port. Developing ferry docking at Fusina is also […]



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