Interview with Konstantinos Chatzikonstantinou, Chief Executive Officer Alexandroupolis Port Authority (OLA), Greece

Interview with Konstantinos Chatzikonstantinou, Chief Executive Officer Alexandroupolis Port Authority (OLA), Greece


Alexandroupolis Port has recently gained international importance due to a huge emphasis in the region on both military support and shifts in energy trade. In 2022, the government halted a privatization program at the port due to its rising geostrategic importance. The port is under the supervision of the Alexandroupolis Port Authority, which is also responsible for other nearby ports and fishing centers, such as Makri, Kamariotisa, and Therma. Tell us about the strategic importance of the port of Alexandroupolis for Greece. How vital is it both from a socio-economic and geopolitical point of view?

Alexandroupolis is currently rediscovering the role that it held in history. In the eighteenth century, the first citizens realized that this place was a critical point on the map due to its geographic location. During the days of the Ottoman Empire, Alexandroupolis had 8 consulates. In the twentieth century, however, Alexandroupolis lost this significant advantage due of the Cold War and the conflict between Greece and Turkey. All these tensions are over now. Bulgaria and Romania are Member States of the European Union, and Alexandroupolis has open borders to the North. We also have very good relations with Turkey. Commerce can blossom. This is a significant opportunity for the Port of Alexandroupolis and its infrastructure to start rediscovering its role.

Our role is logistics, the transportation of goods between different locations. Alexandroupolis is at the end of the former Pan-European corridor IX, stretching for approximately 2,800 kilometers, starting in Helsinki in Finland and ending in Greece in Alexandroupolis. From Alexandroupolis, you can reach the oceans, the Atlantic from Gibraltar, and the Pacific from Suez. This is why Alexandroupolis has again become a node of international interest.

The port has a double role, not only as a commercial port, but also as a military logistics center, due to the continuous war in Ukraine and the importance of the supply to NATO allies. We have managed to achieve a healthy balance between the two roles of helping international stability whilst also helping the local community and the country to rise as a logistics center.


The port has also become a hotbed of military activity since dismantling the Olga dredger in 2020 and even more so with the recent regional conflict. What impact has this increased military activity had on the port and its operation? What benefits has this increased presence as well brought to the port in the region?

This increased military role has helped us to attract international interest. The removal of the Olga dredger has activated a 500-meter-long pier with significant depths and has reactivated a very important infrastructure of the port. We are able to combine the service of commercial and military activities, such as the transportation of military equipment to the North.

We have also activated the railway, which is a significant advantage of Alexandroupolis, as it is accessible within the port. It is one of the very few ports in Greece that can serve multimodal transportation: sea vessel to rail and the reverse.


Can you tell us a little bit about the latest infrastructure developments that you have seen? The latest investments that the port has welcomed and how does this enhance your capacities?

Two years ago, there was a significant decision at the highest governmental level: the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, decided to terminate the international tender for the development of the port in cooperation with private investors. At the same time, the government decided to speed up the development of the maritime infrastructure to upgrade the port’s facilities and bolster the prospects of the region.

Utilizing European and national funds, we have accelerated the dredging of the port, and the construction of a road within the land zone of the port to connect the port to the Egnatia Odos Motorway, through the Alexandroupolis Ring Road. Importantly, the construction of this infrastructure will allow the movement of heavy loads back and forth to the motorway without interfering with the city’s activity.

We have also launched a tender to upgrade the lighting of the piers, and we are planning significant improvements of the pier infrastructure to be able to handle even bigger vessels and an increased capacity for general loads.


Greece has developed strongly as an energy hub for Europe and the region. Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy Alexandra Sdoukou recently said that Greek gas exports will quadruple by the end of 2030. Alexandroupolis port plays a huge role in this regard, with Greece’s first FSRU delivered in November. How will Alexandroupolis act as a channel to bring gas into Europe – specifically under the EU’s Vertical Gas Corridor? What implications do Ukraine, Moldova, and Slovakia joining the project have for local energy activities?

Alexandroupolis has rediscovered its role, not only through the road and rail transportation but also the energy networks, more specifically, gas supply pipelines. The Floating Station Regasification Unit here, which is due to begin its commercial activity imminently is very important. Alexandroupolis Port is serving this critical energy facility to ensure the terminal´s smooth operation. The gas that comes to the FSRU of Alexandroupolis is going to be circulated not only in the Balkans but also in the North-East of Europe, reaching countries with pipeline interconnections, like Moldovia, Ukraine, or Austria. As a result, the northeast of Europe will have access to an additional source of gas, enhancing energy security and independence. This independence is the key reason why it has the support of the European Union.


Following the first FSRU, what next steps are expected to be taken beyond this commissioning?

There are many projects that are at different levels of progress, but there is a significant project regarding the operation of an energy plant station in the industrial area of Alexandroupolis, using gas and hydrogen as fuel. There are also other projects for electrical interconnections with neighboring countries. The European map in terms of energy and transportation is being redesigned and we are participating in the process. The European Union is currently revising the TEN-T network, which for the first time includes Alexandroupolis as a commercial node.


What operations at the port related to the local energy complex are being developed? What synergies do you see between this project and the port in general?

It’s a win-win relationship because we attract new investors and new users to the port. Some of them are interested in logistics infrastructure, others are interested in the transportation of special equipment. We are taking into consideration the geopolitical situation in the Balkans after the Ukrainian war is over, which we hope will be very soon, and are planning the upgraded role of the Alexandroupolis Port as an energy, commercial and logistics hub in Southeastern Europe.


Greece’s logistics sector has recently seen a significant rise in its ranking on the World Bank’s supply chain survey from 42nd in 2018 to 23rd. Key factors include a fast rise in delivery times for goods, heightened quality control, and expanded transportation infrastructure. What changes have we seen in the past five years in terms of maritime trade? What major factors have led to Greece seeing such a large rise in ranking in its logistics sector?

Fortunately, Alexandroupolis Port has plenty of available space which we are redesigning for the next decade with the help of our shareholder HRADF, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund. We are currently revising with them our business plan and master plan. We are receptive to proposals from investors who are interested in using the port and in investing to upgrade the infrastructure to facilitate their activity. We will provide the fundemental infrastructure, the pier, the rail, road connections and networks, and will fully cooperate to reform Alexandroupolis Port into a new international commercial node.


The government is currently working under its Digital Transformation Strategy 2020 to 2025. How is your organization trying to transform to leap forward in terms of its own digitalization? What kind of new systems are you trying to implement? And how will it increase the efficiency of your operations?

We have already taken significant steps to secure the transition of the port into the digital age., using modern IT technologies, We are installing optical cables to upgrade the technological capabilities of the port, with a view to interconnecting a multiple service network that will enable users to streamline the sharing of information in accordance with the highest European standards.


The other big transformation that Greece is working on is regarding sustainability, aiming for net-zero status by 2050. The maritime industry is playing a key role in that regard. It is also trying to enhance its efforts in terms of infrastructures and operations to hold greenhouse gas emissions. What efforts are the port and OLA making to decarbonize, accelerate this transformation, and create more circular economies?

We are lucky because we are in Greece and the sun shines almost every day of the year. We are planning to erect solar panels in the eastern part of the port as we have a lot of available space. The PV systems will contribute to the reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and to the energy transition of the port. We are also researching how to contribute to the installation of offshore wind farms. The first of these offshore wind farms are due to operate in the area of Alexandroupolis because of the excellent wind potential.  As such, we are optimistic that very soon Alexandroupolis will be a fully green port.


Having been born in Alexandroupolis, you’ve had a very well-rounded career in the local economy, including in the construction and tourism segments. As CEO of Alexandroupolis Port Authority, what are some of your top priorities? Where would you like to lead the organization in the next 3 to 4 years?

I feel very fortunate to manage the port of the city I was born in, and to shape new opportunities for my home city. It is my dream to offer opportunities to young people who are living here, or who are willing to live here. Alexandroupolis is a rising star and I strongly believe that it will become an international city in the next few decades by making the most of the new opportunities arising. I would like to send a message to young people, to keep in mind that Alexandroupolis can offer them excellent prospects for a quality life and a great career.


What would be your final message to the audience in a few words?

Invest in Alexandroupolis! It’s a promising city.