Head of the GDWS in the economic “heartland” of East Frisia

“Here in Emden, ecology and economy come together more directly than almost anywhere else thanks to the Ems Master Plan and the fairway adjustment of the Outer Ems. It is clear that these are two sides of the same coin,” says Eric Oehlmann, Head of the Directorate-General for Waterways and Shipping (GDWS) based in Bonn. He has headed the GDWS since the beginning of this year and his visit to Emden was in response to an invitation from the Emder Hafenförderungsgesellschaft e. V. (EHFG). He met with representatives of the Emden port industry at the Ems-North Sea 

“I am delighted that the Emden port industry is supporting the plans for tidal control, which should significantly improve the water quality in the Unterems.” Good water quality in this part of the Ems federal waterway is very important to him. However, this should not lead to disadvantages in terms of the accessibility of the port of Emden. He was referring in particular to the sudden drop in the water level in Emden's outer harbor associated with tidal control. Oehlmann hopes that the current planning procedure for adapting the navigation channel of the Outer Ems will soon be completed and that implementation can then begin quickly. 

The economic importance of the port of Emden for the city and large parts of East Frisia was emphasized by Reinhard Hegewald, CEO of EHFG. He described the port as the “heart chamber” of the region, as it employs around 10,000 people. This results in a strong connection between the East Frisians and the port and the Ems, which is seen as an opportunity for the region with its estuary on site

At the meeting with Oehlmann, Timo Siebahn, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of EHFG, emphasized that the adjustment of the navigation channel in the Outer Ems was also being carried out in order to meet the current ecological challenges. These include the transportation of parts for the construction of wind farms in the North Sea. These require deeper ships as well as electromobility. This is because electric vehicles are around a third heavier than vehicles with combustion engines, which naturally has an impact on the draught of the car carriers.

Hermann Poppen, head of the Ems-North Sea Waterways and Shipping Office, pointed out that part of the initial dredging would be taken to the Wybelsum polder. There are also plans to transfer some of the dredged material from the maintenance of the Outer Ems to land. Instead of being transported to the Ems estuary, the dredged material would mature there and could then be used to raise the dykes. “Klei is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity. We have even received inquiries from the Netherlands and the Altes Land region,” says Poppen.

The Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) is part of the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport. The Directorate-General for Waterways and Shipping is the WSV's central management authority. In the regions, 17 waterway and shipping authorities ensure safe and smooth-flowing shipping traffic and the maintenance and operation of federal waterways, including the Ems. The focus of the WSV's eight waterway construction offices in Germany is on expansion and new construction projects on federal waterways. 

Copyright: EHFG

Eric Oehlmann (sixth from left) framed by Emden's port representative Reinhard Hegewald (seventh from left), WSA head Hermann Poppen (fifth from left) and Timo Siebahn (fourth from left) with representatives from Emden and East Frisia in front of the building of the Ems-North Sea Waterways and Shipping Authority in Emden

Michaela Stolper