Release Date:
Release ID: 1205

Port of Rotterdam chasing milestones

Goods throughput in the port of Rotterdam increased by 6.2% to 301 million tonnes in the first nine months of the year. Although growth in the first six months was only 4.2%, the ‘300 mark’ was passed earlier than ever before, thanks to the sprint in the third quarter. Throughput was pushed up mainly by the 30% increase in the transshipment of mineral oil products (+10 million tonnes) and 11% growth in containers (+8 million tonnes). Expressed in TEU, the rise was almost 13%. Port of Rotterdam CEO Hans Smits: “We’ll be passing the 10 million TEU mark this year, as the first non-Asian port to do so. Combined with the boom in oil products, the 400 million mark for total throughput is also within reach. As far as I’m concerned, let the chase begin.”

Liquid bulk

The continuing strong performance by mineral oil products (+30% to 44 million tonnes) is still the result of a worldwide imbalance between demand and supply. This is being restored via the ports. Here, the products are also brought to the right specification through blending. In this connection, Vopak, ETT and the Port Authority in particular have invested, and are still investing, in the substantial expansion of tank and jetty capacity on the Caland Canal.

In comparison with 2006, imports of crude oil are still down (-4%) due to the loss of an unloading pier at the MOT after being hit by a ship. In the third quarter, stocks were topped up via various terminals and price increases for crude oil were anticipated. The decline of the first six months (-8%) was halved and over 71 million tonnes were transferred.

Throughput for other liquid bulk was up slightly, by 1% percent to 23 million tonnes, because the chemical industry continues to produce at a stable high level.

Dry bulk

Agribulk throughput is down again (-7%), largely due to the one-third fall in exports. The European intervention stocks have now been used up and this means that there is a glimmer of hope for the Rotterdam terminals, which are geared more towards imports.

As expected, coal imports have recovered again, to close on 20 million tonnes, due to the building up of winter stocks: -2% to the end of September as opposed to -11% in the first six months.

When it comes to ores and scrap, Rotterdam continues to enjoy some good fortune for the time being. Thanks to the high global demand for steel, Arcelor recently reopened its blast furnace in Liège. Other clients of the port are also operating at full capacity. As a result, the downward trend in the transshipment of ores seen in the first six months has been converted into a 3% increase, to 30 million tonnes.

Other dry bulk , minerals and building materials continue to benefit from the favourable industrial climate in Europe and managed to hold on to a high growth level of +7% . Despite being short of space, the terminals handled 10 million tonnes up to the end of September.

General cargo

The handling of containers increased from 70 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2006 to a good 77 million tonnes (+11%). In TEU that equals 8 million, up 13%. The Asia services in particular are responsible for this, with growth figures of 20% or more. Most of these are handled by ECT, which extended its capabilities by updating its computer system last year. However, there are still some bottlenecks in outgoing trade, mainly during peak times. New capacity is already being deployed, or will be very soon, to deal with this: Rotterdam Container Terminal, overspill site Maasvlakte for trucks, the Betuwe Line, Delta Barge Feeder terminal, etc.

Roll-on / roll-off transport was up by almost a quarter, to 12 million tonnes, thanks to the addition of Stena Line Hook of Holland and the arrival of Norfolk Line. Rotterdam now has six specialised roro terminals. The services focus primarily on England.

In November, the age of 'lash shipping' in Europe ended with the last sailing from Rotterdam to the United States. As the service was run down, throughput figures for other general cargo declined. Thanks to the positive development of steel, metals and paper in particular, this decline was restricted to almost -4%, to 7 million tonnes.
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