The mouth of the Oulujoki River has been a busy port since the 14th century. The most important trading centre in Ostrobothnia, Oulu received town privileges in 1605. Oulu went on to obtain staple rights in 1765, giving the city the right to engage in foreign trade; one hundred years later, the Oulu merchant fleet was the biggest in Finland.

Exporting tar to Europe

The Toppila strait and harbour were born when a blockage in the river burst open in 1724. At the turn of the new century, the commerce society “Oulun kauppaseura” set up a dredging fund for deepening the draught in the harbour by collecting funds from export and import fees. Piling work was conducted on the shores, and the draught was increased to 10 feet. The pilings, wharves, and most of the warehouses were burned down by the British in 1854, but this did not stop the export of tar into the world. The export of tar continued strong up until the turn of the 20th century.

In 1910, Toppila harbour became the property of the City of Oulu. The harbour draught was increased to 21 feet, and stone quays, rail lines, and harbour warehouses were constructed.

Increase in exports

Nuottasaari harbour was completed in 1953 for the import of salt and the export of cellulose for the then-operating Oulu Oy. The Ore Harbour, completed the same year, served as Chemicals Quay until the end of 2013, at which time all chemical traffic was transferred to the new Chemicals Quay built in the early 2000s.

The Vihreäsaari oil harbour was completed in 1963. Before the completion of the Toppila thermal power station, over one million tonnes of oil was imported every year. Today, about 600,000 tonnes of liquid fuel arrive at the harbour per year.

Year-round traffic

The Oritkari deep-water harbour was completed in 1970. The size of vessels had increased, year-round traffic could be guaranteed and paper exports had begun, so there was a need for deeper export quays. To ensure year-round traffic, the City of Oulu acquired a powerful harbour icebreaker of its own.

In 1980, a bulk quay measuring 150 metres in length and with a 10-metre draught was completed in Vihreäsaari. In addition, Vihreäsaari has an oil quay, also with a 10-metre draught. This enables large oil tankers to arrive in Oulu fully loaded.

In 1984, a tailgate ramp was completed in Oritkari, next to a 10,000 m2 terminal warehouse. As a result, the paper loading capacity of the Port of Oulu increased significantly.