Euro Supply Chain 2024

by Christiane PERRUCHOT - Traces Ecrites Interview with Gilbert Stimpflin, President of the Société d'économie mixte à opération unique portuaire (Semop) Euro Rhein Ports and President of the Mulhouse delegation of the CCI Alsace Métropole

Gilbert Stimpflin
Can you introduce your structure to us? 

Euro Rhein Ports, which I chair, is the concessionaire of the three ports of South Alsace, Ottmarsheim, Huningue-Village-Neuf and Ile-Napoléon. This multimodal platform offers all types of services, from transhipment to the storage of bulk goods and containers for import and export. Today it is directly linked to the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam by the Rhine and to the port of Antwerp by a rail shuttle for the transport of containers. In the years to come, we would also like to have a direct rail link with our friends at Haropa and the Port of Marseille. The legal form of Euro Rhein Ports, an SEMOP, is interesting because it mobilizes all the local economic forces. Its majority shareholder (51%) is the SMO (syndicat mixte ouvert) des Ports du Sud-Alsace, which in turn brings together the CCI Alsace Métropole, the community of of Mulhouse and Saint-Louis, VNF and the Grand Est Region. The second shareholder (39%) is AlsaceTeam, the economic operator of the Ports, whose lead partner is Swissterminal (including DP World) and which includes HAROPA port of Le Havre and the Grand Port Maritume de Marseille in its capital. Finally, Caisse des Dépôts is also a 10% shareholder in Semop. 

Can you give us an overview of the supply chain in Alsace? 

South Alsace is a communication node in a dynamic industrial area where river freight has all the qualities to develop: it is competitive, less expensive than the train and much less than the road. It is also much faster than one might think: it takes only 72 hours to reach the ports of Antwerp or Rotterdam. A manufacturer must ask himself the question of the urgency of his deliveries, which do not all have to arrive at the customer's premises within the day or the next day. day or the next day. Of course, the problem with river freight is low water. This problem has now been solved with the introduction of a rail shuttle for the transport of containers that serves the port of Antwerp three times a week. The mass transport modes of barge and train have a smaller carbon footprint and are therefore fully in line with a sustainable development policy. For example, a river convoy consumes 3 to 4 times less energy than road transport and can carry the equivalent of the load of 200 trucks.

Why do you support Euro Supply Chain? 

Located in the heart of Europe and crossed by major trade corridors, Southern Alsace has a lively multimodal system, strongly supported by :
- a rail network integrated into the European system, 
- a major river infrastructure linking the region to the major seaports of the North Sea, which gives it an activity and a vocation for pre/post port transport, and therefore intercontinental
- as well as one of the most important French freight airports. Its cross-border location constitutes a golden triangle with Switzerland and Germany, neighboring countries with which the chambers of commerce have formed a political and economic network. 

 Nowadays, it is vital for a company to have an efficient supply chain to optimize its transport costs and manage its stocks.... supply chain management, the backbone of the economy, is essential to trade and economic development. Its importance lies in the flexibility it brings to the functioning of commercial circuits, but it is also an economic activity in itself, a source of wealth and employment. In addition, the issue of transport and logistics has become one of the keys to sustainable development policies, particularly in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as its activities are among the main emitters. The objective is to improve the performance of logistics in the service of the economy, to promote a fluid access from supply to demand for a sustainable logistics, respectful of the environment, and thus to make logistics an efficient system for the competitiveness of our territory in the international competition. 

This implies a communication and an exchange of information between the different actors of the logistics. However, there are few, if any, trade shows or events bringing together logistics players in Southern Alsace, even though we have local issues and projects that need to be addressed in a very specific way because they require responses on a territorial scale, which gives this trade show an unprecedented color and importance. 
This exhibition demonstrates the ambition of our territory. Euro Rhein Ports and the CCI Alsace Métropole want to show the relevance of the massive modes of transport that are the river and the railway as well as the attractiveness of our territory. As proof of this, we have strong requests from industrialists to set up in our port areas. Three projects that I cannot yet reveal require 7 to 10 hectares of land.

What are the prospects for your structure in 2022? 

The major project for the future of the Mulhouse ports is hydrogen. Alsace and more broadly the Grand Est are building an ecosystem around hydrogen, a way of the future to decarbonize industry. And very close to Mulhouse, in Belfort, there is a research community that is a real nest for hydrogen development. On the territory of South Alsace, several industrial projects are emerging: the electrolyser of the Belgian John Cockerill in Aspach-le-Haut supported by M2A with the State and the Grand Est region, is expected in May 2023. Linde in Chalampé will double its hydrogen production to supply the future BASF HMD production line on the same site. And projects are also emerging in border Germany. At the end of February, Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération (m2A) will unveil its H2 business plan, supported by Ademe, concerning projects for the production, distribution and use of carbon-free hydrogen. 
So, everything is being set up locally and the ports of Mulhouse have already positioned themselves with short-term projects for hydrogen distribution stations on its multimodal platform. This implies the circulation of hydrogen barges that are starting to arrive on the market. Nearly 30 million euros will be invested over the next five years in port infrastructures. The hydrogen project is also part of a cross-border dynamic with Germany and Switzerland.