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Published: 7 August 2017      

Zeeland Seaports under fire

Zeeland Seaports in the Netherlands is at the centre of a row over alleged leaking of confidential information of two of its clients to a third party

Pending an external "forensic" investigation, one staff member has been suspended.

The conflict features a ZSP port area for which two companies occupying adjacent areas have expansion plans - Dutch Offshore Contractors (DOC) and Finsa.

The related drawings of these two established ZSP customers have allegedly been relayed to Dong Energy. The Danish offshore wind giant is already looking at this plot, whilst ZSP and the province of Zeeland clearly eye Dong - a big fish they want to land.

Once Dong aired its interest in the plot, the negotiations with DOC were stopped, DOC's director Dave Hangoor has claimed. Both he and Finsa have stated on the record that their drawings and plans for the 7-ha site ended up with Dong Energy in The Hague!

The confidential information was allegedly contained in email messages to ZSP’s chief commercial officer, Marjolein Warburg, who was recruited by ZSP at the beginning of 2017, coming from the Rotterdam Port Promotion Council.

Dong wants to use a 5,000 m2 plot, crucially the quayside strip, as a crew tender terminal for two offshore wind farms that it will build nearby. Deprived of its quayside, the remaining land, which sits between the premises of DOC and Finsa, would be rendered considerably less useful to those parties.

DOC has already announced that it is considering claiming damages of up to €45M, the potential new business for the site, which is located at the Buitenhaven near Vlissingen, where port space is less abundant than in the main and larger eastern port area.

In a spin-off to this row, regional newspaper PZC has reported that it has received complaints from various other Vlissingen-based port operators about ZSP and has apparently some damage suits are under way. 

ZSP confirmed to worldcargnews online that forensic auditing by an external party is under way, although understandably declined to name the staff member forced to take "garden leave." However, it is understood that Marjolein Warburg herself is still in post.

Meanwhile, the ZSP Works Council has been mobilised, so this row looks set to run for some time.

With the proposed ZSP/Ghent merger under threat because of contaminated land at Vlissingen, ZSP needs this new problem like a hole in the head!

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