In 2007, the Port of Rotterdam was the first European port to break through the barrier of 400 million tons cargo throughput. 406 million tons were loaded and unloaded, 6.4% more than in 2006. Imports increased by 4% to 300 million tons, exports by almost 14% to 107 million tons. Bulk cargo rose 4.5%, general cargo by over 10%. Imports and exports were down for crude oil (-2%) and other general cargo (-3.5%). Positive developments were seen in the throughput of agribulk (+2%), ore and scrap (+4%), coal (+1.5%), other dry bulk (+4%), other liquid bulk (+1%), mineral oil products (+24%), roll on/roll off (+24%) and containers (+10%). For the first time more tons of container cargo - 105 million - were transshipped than crude oil. In terms of units, Rotterdam was the first European port to pass the milestone of 10 million teu: 10.8 million (+12%). Records were broken in six sectors: mineral oil products, coal, containers, ro/ro, other dry bulk and other liquid bulk.
Port of Rotterdam CEO Hans Smits: “With regard to both quantity and quality, 2007 was an unprecedented success. Expectations concerning throughput were well exceeded. In addition, crucial progress was made for the Second Maasvlakte, the Betuwe Route actually went into operation and huge investments were once again made. I would like to mention the refinery sector, Shell, the Gatel LNG terminal, and the container terminals Euromax and Rotterdam World Gateway. These together accounted for almost three billion euro. The port is developing above the highest long-term growth scenario, but within the ‘old’ physical boundaries. This is commercially and socially positive, until the increase in revenue decreases. We are balancing on the pivot point, particularly in the oil, containers and other dry bulk sectors and in hinterland transport. Although the businesses appear to be skilled tightrope walkers, we still have a few more years to go before we are in the clear. Prospects for the Port of Rotterdam, however, remain very positive. The investment boom will continue and in 2008 throughput will increase by 4% to at least 420 million tons. Within this framework, container throughput will grow by around 10%.”
The total volume of dry bulk rose by 3% to 91 million tons.
A record volume of coal was handled (+1.5% to 28 million tons). This was despite the mild winter and closure for maintenance by E.on on the Maasvlakte. In addition, exports were hindered by low water on the rivers and strikes by the French and German railways. Consequently, when imports picked up again in August, the terminals became chock-a-block. Prospects for coal throughput are good due to the structurally increasing demand and the reduction in mine capacity in Germany. In 2008 for example, the Walsum mine will be closing down and this will gradually lead to a need for an additional 2 million tons of imported coal.
Ores and scrap throughput increased by 4% to 40 million tons. The big demand for steel led to a decision by Arcelor to reactivate a blast furnace in Liege and stocks had already been built up for this. A negative consequence of the flourishing steel sector was a lack of certain ore qualities. This depressed throughput in the first six months particularly, likewise the interruption in production due to modernization of the Thyssen Krupp plants in Duisburg. However, from a structural point of view these developments are positive for Rotterdam. Scrap exports increased by almost 10% despite the strong euro and thanks to a high demand.
Other dry bulk is continuing its upward trend with an increase of 4% this year to a record throughput of 13 million tons. There is a continuing high level of demand for sand, gravel, ores, minerals and concentrates by the building, chemical and metal industries. After six years of uninterrupted growth, the ceiling is coming in sight in Rotterdam for the throughput of these products. A slight increase is still possible, but there is no room for structural expansion.
Throughput of agribulk (grains, oil-seeds, derivatives) gr