Evaluating the need for and choice of a seaport hub in the eastern Mediterranean region based on the merits of international logistics - supply chain

Vassilopoulos, Petros (2004) Evaluating the need for and choice of a seaport hub in the eastern Mediterranean region based on the merits of international logistics - supply chain. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


A trend emerged during the mid 1990s, where Liner operators considered a new strategy for serving the Eastern Mediterranean countries from the Far East region: the choice being via a centrally located seaport hub instead of via Eastern Mediterranean seaport hubs. The author raised several questions in relation to this strategy since shippers experienced prolonged transit time delays. Feedback from Liner operators was minimal, so the author decided to view the matter on a more global basis, and more specifically, from the international logistics supply chain with focus on lead time. A supply chain links all activities of cargoes from source to user, that is, from the raw material until goods are delivered to the end customer. Using this as a basis the objective of this thesis is to evaluate the need for and choice of a seaport hub in the Eastern Mediterranean for cargoes originating from the Far East destined to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Initially the author proposes the segmentation of the Mediterranean in three distinct peripheral regions, namely, the West, the Central and the East. Focus is given on 6 potential seaport hubs in the Eastern Mediterranean, namely, Damietta, Piraeus, Limassol, Port Said, Haifa and Alexandria, and 3 seaports in the Central Mediterranean, namely, Gioia Tauro, Marsaxlokk and Taranto. A description of these seaports characteristics and facilities was the first step undertaken in order to describe the infrastructure and operational status. This was reinforced by a 10 day fieldtrip to several of these seaports.

A survey analysis on the Eastern Mediterranean hub candidates was carried out through a questionnaire. The survey analysis has revealed the suitable seaport hubs in the Eastern Mediterranean namely, Piraeus, Limassol, Port Said and Damietta, being the most suitable. Furthermore for each of the candidate seaports the seaport hub criteria are identified. Extending these findings the seaports hub criteria are ranked in terms of importance and significant differences are highlighted.

Based on the results of the survey analysis, the author produced a simulation model to measure the potential cargo transit times of these hubs compared to centrally located hubs. More specifically, the concept of Average Cargo Transit Time (ACTT) is introduced by the author and used as a new alternative approach of comparison between Centrally located seaport hubs versus the most suitable Eastern Mediterranean seaport hubs. Furthermore, the simulation has allowed for a "what if' analysis through alterations of the quantities of parametric variables, such as, vessel speed, volume of cargo, loading/discharging rates, etc. The simulation model produces four important findings: Firstly, it reveals that the Eastern Mediterranean seaport hubs offer significantly lower ACTT compare to Centrally located seaport hubs. Secondly, comparing the biggest seaport hub at the Central of the Mediterranean (Gioia Tauro) with the most unsuitable seaport hub of the Eastern Mediterranean (Damietta) a difference of approximately 7 days in ACTT exists. Thirdly, a "what if' analysis highlighted the sensitive and robust features of the ACTT, based on the parametric variables used in the simulation. Fourthly, two realistic scenarios proposed by the author validate that ACTT can be reduced substantially.

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