When a ship arrives at or departs from a port, the port agent is the first and last person on board. In Pietarsaari, this person is Jessica Kivilehto, or one of her two colleagues.
Euroports Pietarsaari Ab Oy is the port operator in Pietarsaari. Around 40 people in the office and at the docks ensure that everything runs smoothly when ships arrive at and depart from the port of Pietarsaari. The port agent, or broker, acts as a representative of the company while the ship is in port and is an intermediary between the crew/company and the authorities, shippers and stevedores.
“When we receive notification that a ship is on its way, we upload the necessary documents on the type of ship, crew and cargo to the authorities’ systems and inform all parties concerned. We also arrange pilotage, port services and tugboats, and in the winter we’re in contact with icebreakers if the ice difficult,” says Jessica.
Once the vessel has arrived, the port agent goes on board, meets the captain and gets the documents signed.
Europort’s stevedores take care of the unloading and loading of a large proportion of the vessels in the port. Around 25 ships arrive in Pietarsaari every month. Exports consist mostly of pulp, paper and sawn timber. Imports consist mainly of cement, lye and wooden raw materials. UPM is the ports’ largest customer.
Jessica says that it’s usually the same boats coming and going, so people get to know each other. The ships and crews are mostly Russian, Ukrainian, Dutch or Filipino. English is the working language.
“As a port agent, you help out if the ship’s crew needs something on shore,” says Jessica. “This can include ordering a taxi into town, booking a dentist’s appointment, buying coffee…”
Once the vessel is fully loaded, the port agent goes on board with the cargo documents to have them signed and stamped. As ships also arrive or leave after regular office hours, one member of the team is always on call.
Jessica has worked at the port for a year and a half. Before that, she spent twenty years in retail. Changing industries was an exciting and welcome change.
“This is an exciting job with a very varied daily routine,” says Jessica. “It’s not unusual to be a woman at the port – we also have female stevedores. And the view of the sea from the office is something special, especially early in the summer when the sun sets over the sea.”