PORT OF VARNA HAS ALWAYS BEEN AND WILL BE A PORT OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE
Adolf Guerard (1847-1921), Varna port planner
The advice of the French engineer Adolf Guerard, who was among the most distinguished port planners and experts in port building, was sought after throughout the world. Beyond building of Varna port, he was involved also in port construction in Burgas, Constantza (Romania), Montevideo (Uruguay), and the expansion of Buenos Aires port. He was representative of the French government during construction of Panama Canal. His expertise was also used in engineering of port projects in Bahia Blanca (Argentina), Heraclea and Yaffa in the Ottoman Empire.
The official opening ceremony of Varna Port took place on 18th May 1906, and was attended by the Royal Prince Ferdinand I, Ministers and representatives of foreign diplomatic missions.
During the period 1906-1909, so called Old Canal was dredged to connect the Black Sea with the Lake of Varna.
In the eventful 1966, the port was extended by building a new Mole A to provide further 5 berths for port operations, and by establishing a dedicated Passenger Terminal to serve the growing passenger traffic.
In 1974, the new industrial port of Varna West started operations, and it took another 2 years to complete the deep water “sea-lake” canal No. 1 which opened the way for deep-sea vessels up to Varna West. Varna Port Complex was established in the same year to include the port facilities of Varna East, Varna West, Power Station Terminal, Balchik and Kavarna.
In the late 1980-s, the cargo traffic reached 8.5 million tons p.a., owing to the active trade with the Soviet Union and the stable Bulgarian exports.
The 1990-s marked decline and instability of cargo traffic, start of the port reform and restructuring of Varna Port.
In 2000, the Law on Sea Space, Inland Waterways and Ports of Republic of Bulgaria became effective. The provisions of this law enabled private sector investments and concessions in Bulgarian ports.
The Port in the 21. century
In 2005 and 2008, Port of Varna EAD invested port’s own funds in purchasing of two 100T mobile cranes from the German manufacturer Gottwald to meet the demands of heavy lift and out-of-gauge traffic, i.e. various windmill components (blades with length of 44m, towers, pedestals, generators etc.) for the rapid development of wind power parks during that period.
The concession of the port terminal of Balchik was awarded on 25 May 2006 to the company Port of Balchik AD for effective period of 25 years. This was the first concession for the operation of a Bulgarian sea port, and Balchik was taken out of the scope of operations of Port of Varna EAD.
At the end of 2006, the company introduced a new management information system which resulted in more effective port operations and better efficiency of container handling. The software ensures smooth electronic data interchange between the port and port users. It was developed by port’s own IT specialists which saves every year hundreds of thousands Euro for development and maintenance charges.
In 2008, the port took advantage of the objective market situation (strikes of port workers at Thessaloniki) and succeeded in attracting more than 155 thousand TEU, thus achieving a growth of container traffic of 56% compared with the previous year. The endeavors of port management to keep the high traffic levels produced positive results: in the following years the traffic never fell below 100 TEU, and in both 2012 and 2013 it exceeded 130 thousand TEU.
Increasing of cargo traffic is a long term goal of vital importance. Even at times of global financial and economic crisis (2008-2011), the port retained its cargo traffic (in the range 6 – 9 million tons p.a.) and the traffic structure.
Since 2009, the grain traffic has been growing steadily, with record-breaking volumes every year. For 4 years in sequence, the port has handled about 2 million tons p.a., and in 2013 the grain traffic reached its absolute peak of 4.140 million tons of wheat, maize, sunflower, barley, rape seed and derivative products.
In 2013, Port of Varna EAD purchased two 63T mobile cranes from the German crane-builder Gottwald. The port invested its own funds in these acquisitions, and the cranes were immediately set into operation to support the grain handling process.
In 2013, the throughput reached the highest level which was ever achieved so far: totally 10.695 million tons of cargo (Varna East and Varna West), which was a remarkable success of the professional staff of Port of Varna EAD at all levels. It was another year in the long history of Port of Varna, when it kept its standing as a national leader in grain, containers, chemicals, heavy lifts and out-of-gauge traffic, and another proof that Port of Varna has always been and will be a port of national and international importance.