The loss of Russian business is having an impact on the Faroese economy, not least the transport and logistics sector, with top cold storage facility Bergfrost looking to lure ships from other countries to utilize its 25,000-tonne capacity.
Fuglafjørður-based Bergfrost, the leading cold store in the Faroe Islands, has seen rapid development over recent years, with large investments in expansion and upgrades of its huge underground facility. A further round of planned investments, however, is likely being placed on hold over a serious downturn in market affairs—notably a port closure on Russian vessels in the Faroe Islands effective since July 2023 over the conflict in Ukraine.
Providers of cold storage services like Bergfrost had access to huge volumes of new business with an annual 350,000 tonnes of frozen fish, most of which, however, was being transshipped between Russian vessels for lack of capacity at land-based facilities. Getting a more sizeable piece of this action would mean many more thousands of tonnes of onshore storage and handling on behalf of well-paying clients. Yet for now, that was not to be.
“350,000 tonnes taken out of the equation is quite a dramatic change and is sure to have an impact on how you plan ahead,” said Bergfrost managing director Símin Pauli Sivertsen. “We were looking for ways to be able to more fully meet the demands of international vessels, in particular Russian ones, and were considering various options to extend our capacity.”
Despite Bergfrost’s high cold storage capacity, currently at 25,000 tonnes, a dramatic upgrade would have been needed to meet the demand of those vessels. For certain periods throughout the year, namely, a substantial proportion of today’s capacity is occupied by land-based freezing plants, making it difficult to guarantee any amounts of storage space for additional clients.
“In light of the recent changes, those investment plans have become less viable and at least for now they’ve been put on the back burner. So we’re looking at the situation as it is and working on that basis, taking into account these changes and recalibrating our plans as necessary.”
Meanwhile Faroe retains a competitive position for regional transport and logistics, at least potentially. The tiny island nation has a strategic location along major sea lanes in the Northest Atlantic and an excellent infrastructure both internally and externally, with highly developed road networks, container services and bulk carriers calling on a regular basis, a very high level of internet connectivity, and a comprehensive array of supporting business services. Import and export shipping processes are relatively short and simple while, at the same time, the cost of doing business in general remains comparatively low.