In the first nine months of this year, over 332 million tons of cargo were handled in the port of Rotterdam, virtually equal to the same period of last year. The top performance came from dry bulk, such as coal, iron ore and agribulk. Throughput figures for crude oil were noticeably lower than in 2012, due mainly to the weak fuel market in Europe and maintenance shutdowns at the refineries. Thanks to flourishing international trade, however, more oil products were imported and exported. Container throughput was down due to the economic crisis.
Hans Smits, Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO: “On the whole, it was a good third quarter. The first six months were 0.9% down on 2012. However, taken over the first nine months, the decrease is only 0.1%. I expect the port to continue on this upward trend, so that throughput for 2013 as a whole will be at the same level as 2012, in terms of tonnes.”
Since 1 January, the running of Dordrecht seaport has been integrated into Rotterdam’s operations. Throughput figures for Dordrecht (approx. 3 million tonnes a year, 0.7% of Rotterdam’s throughput) have therefore been included since this year. Even without the inclusion of Dordrecht, throughput in Rotterdam increased in the third quarter, by 1% compared to the third quarter of 2012.
Crude oil throughput fell by 6.7%. The refineries in the Rotterdam complex faced a reduction in demand for fuel. In addition, there were large-scale maintenance shutdowns in the refinery cluster. This will also have an impact on crude oil imports in the fourth quarter. Trade in mineral oil productsremains lively, however, with 1.3% more diesel, kerosene, fuel oil (export in VLCCs) being handled. 1.2% more other liquid bulk was loaded and discharged, mainly vegetable oil. The increase in terminal capacity also played a positive role. Chemicals, which account for by far the largest proportion of other liquid bulk, are still suffering from the crisis. LNG throughput was 6.6% higher than the – very low- level in 2012. Due to the high price of products, imports from outside Europe are still low, but imports of LNG from European sources are increasing.
Within the dry bulk sector, all types of goods performed better than in 2012. The 10.3% increase in the handling of ores and scrap was largely due to the concentration of imports in very large vessels (Valemax) in Rotterdam and their transit to steel plants elsewhere in Europe. A second important factor is the scrap handling in Dordrecht. In addition to this, steel production in Germany is recovering slightly, requiring both ore and cokes coal. Coal throughput (+17.3%) benefited from the decline in German coal mining, the start of a new coal-fired power plant in Lunen (Germany) and the low price of coal. Agribulk throughput (+15.4%) was given a boost by exports of wheat and imports, in large vessels, for the extraction of oil from seeds and beans (‘crushing’). The handling of other dry bulk, such as minerals, construction materials and smaller types of ore, was up by 3.4%.
Containers and Breakbulk
The container sector showed a decline in both tonnes (-2.7%) and numbers of TEU (-1.0%). The main reason is the low demand for (consumer) goods resulting from the economic situation. Of the three underlying categories within the container sector, deepsea containers fell by 2.5% (in TEU) as a result of a reduction in ship’s capacity on a number of services between Asia and Europe. This also had an impact on feeder volume, which was 9.9% down (in TEU), partly due to the transfer of some feeder services to German ports. On the other hand, short sea traffic increased by 12.7% (in TEU), mainly with Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic, as a result of the economic growth in this part of Europe. Thanks to the improvement in the British economy, roll on/roll off rose by 2.8%. Other general cargo was 23.1% down on 2012. Incoming trade in slabs (semi-manufactured steel products) came to a halt and the handling of other steel products is suffering as a consequence of the weak European market. The decline in the breakbulk sector as a whole was 3.9%.