Genoa - Giovanni Mondini, the president of Genoa’s Confindustria since April 2017, d oesn’t have a background in ports. The former vice-president of ERG, the oil company owned by the Garrone family, has, in the few months he’s been leading the association, demonstrated a hands-on approach dealing with the problems of what is still the largest industry in the Ligurian capital: “It is an entity with many facets,” he says; “ship repairs, terminals, cruises, the oil port, the companies Superba and Carmagnani. And then there is VTE, which is a port entity in itself and is doing very well. Major investments have been made and we should let our schools and the city know about it all. It is important to maintain this diversification and even increase it.”
What are you referring to?
“For example, a liquefied natural gas terminal (LNG) is necessary. The Port Authority is conducting a feasibility study on the matter, taking into account future scenarios and the international emission rules that will come into force in 2020. The maritime industry moves much faster than legislation. A port like Genoa must have such a terminal. As to where it should go, the study needs to be completed.”
What are the most vocal port sectors within Confindustria?
“Shipbuilding and terminal operators, who have also their own segments, respectively represented by Ferdinando Garrè and Gilberto Danesi. There are several issues that need to be discussed. The Port Authority is close to signing the extension to the concessions of some terminal operators. It is an important step because businesses need these extensions in order to invest.”
Ship repair companies are worried about their future.
“The plans presented by architect Renzo Piano were born from the needs of this sector, which is very important for the port, because there is a strong demand in the Mediterranean that should be met. The choice of the space where the naval repair works are carried out must be made so as to guarantee the optimal conditions for this kind of work. The Blueprint and the design of Piano’s Waterfront have always taken these needs into account. The issue of the Yacht club has been resolved. Companies need to work in more efficient spaces. The future of this area depends on the Waterfront and on the privatization of Ente Bacini, a necessity carried out by the president of the Authority, Paolo Signorini.”
In the past, the two major repair contractors, Ferdinando Garrè and Marco Bisagno, have threatened to leave Genoa due to the lack of attention paid to this sector. How is the situation today?
“They have actually invested elsewhere. But nobody likes to abandon their home town. If the conditions allow, they will continue to operate in Genoa. We hope that these conditions exist, also to maintain the diversification of the port.”
What will happen with Superba, the oil company that wants a space in the port?
“For twenty years we have been talking about relocating the facility. The Municipality has made a commitment to proceed, but we must make a decision, because it is difficult to plan such a process in a sector that, among other things, is in active production and has a demand that needs to be met. It is not easy to find a location, some proposals have been made, such as the former Enel and Ilva areas, where Ansaldo Energia also went, but this decision is part of a wider process. The relocation of the facility within the oil port is less likely. What is certain is that the Enel area will have to be used for an industrial activity linked to the port and not for a museum or another power plant. This area must be kept productive.”
Another key issue for Confindustria has to do with the labour situation in the port and the future of the Compagnia Unica. What are your proposals?
“For now we have not presented any solutions, but we are internally reviewing the matter. For some years now there have been problems in the financial management of Culmv, there are some solutions under discussion and it is only natural that some will like them and some will not. But everyone knows that the current model is not applicable any more. New investors will come to the port and this situation must be managed. We hope that the Authority, with the tools of the Corrective Port regulations and the Stability Law, will have the resources to deal with it. The port is growing and it will grow even more with the completion of the Third tunnel and the dam. The businesses here might change, MSC will arrive, the Silk Road is being talked about. New investors will have difficulty understanding the current situation with regards to labour.”