Port of Rotterdam has announced that, over the first three quarters of 2014, it handled 0.3% more cargo than the same period last year. Allard Castelein, Port of Rotterdam Authority’s Chief Executive Officer said, “With the exception of a few sectors, the port is doing pretty well. Particularly striking is the 4% increase in containers. This makes it even clearer that we badly need the new terminals on Maasvlakte 2 if we are to achieve further growth. The increase of no less than 31% in the handling of other mixed cargo is also noteworthy. However mineral oil products in particular, at -11%, are considerably down on last year.”
Although crude oil is 2% up on the low 2013 level, capacity utilization at the European refineries is low because demand for some oil products has dropped and competition on the world market is tough. The volumes of mineral oil products, which fell by 11%, and other liquid bulk, which fell by 9%, resulted in part from these factors. Other causes include the difficult situation of the chemical industry in Europe, lower re-exports of heavy fuel oil to the Far East, the limited economic growth in Europe and increasing competition with the coming into operation of new terminals in other ports. LNG throughput at Rotterdam remained limited in scale, but grew by 137% over the period. This mainly concerned gas produced in Scandinavia that is shipped out of Europe through Rotterdam.
Within the dry bulk sector, 5% less iron ore and scrap were handled due to maintenance work on a large blast furnace in Germany and a fall in the transhipment volume. Coal throughput was up by 6% because of a shift in incoming cokes coal for blast furnaces in Germany from other ports to Rotterdam, the start-up of new coal-fired power plants in Germany and the testing of the new power plants on the Maasvlakte. Following a rise in soya imports and wheat exports Agribulk throughput increased by 26%. Other dry bulk volumes also rose by 7%. This concerned, among other things, materials for the construction industry, raw materials for industry and biomass.
The 4% increase in container traffic came despite congestion on the Maasvlakte over the summer of 2014, which resulted in a number of ships being diverted to Antwerp. During the first two months of 2014, container throughput lagged behind. However, between March and the end of September throughput was on average 6% higher than in 2013. The tentative economic recovery was the main reason for these positive figures.
Container traffic consists of the deep sea sector which grew by 6%, feeder traffic which declined by 2% and short sea which grew by 4%. There was a slight fall in the handling of cargo from the Far East in the third quarter, partly due to the diversion of ships to Antwerp, whilst cargo to and from North and South America increased. In 2013, Rotterdam lost feeder cargo destined for the Baltic to Hamburg. This has now largely returned to Rotterdam, due to congestion in Hamburg, but also because shipping companies are switching cargo to Rotterdam in anticipation of the opening of terminals on Maasvlakte 2. The strong UK economy is largely responsible for the growth in short sea traffic.
Roll-on/roll-off traffic was also up by 8%, thanks to the recovery of the UK economy. Other mixed cargo increased by 31%, partly because more steel passed through the port and more cargo for the offshore industry was handled.
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