Rotterdam port sees box traffic rise to record 14.5 million TEU

THE Port of Rotterdam Authority saw 469 million tonnes of cargo pass through its gates in 2018, just beating the record set in 2017

20 February 2019 - 19:00

THE Port of Rotterdam Authority saw 469 million tonnes of cargo pass through its gates in 2018, just beating the record set in 2017.

The container transshipment segment was described again as being an engine of growth, with a 4.5 per cent increase in tonnage, helping container throughput increase by 5.7 per cent year on year to an all-time high of 14.5 million TEU.

Container transshipment saw a further strong increase in 2018, as a result of which market share was gained in the Hamburg-Le Havre range. A key factor in the increase in 2018 was the growth in numbers of transhipment and full import containers.

Container exports developed less strongly, partly due to Chinese import restrictions on waste flows. The shortsea segment suffered from slowdowns in the British and Russian economies.

Significant underlying shifts were observable in the goods segments. While container transhipment continued to grow at a healthy pace, crude oil, mineral oil products and agribulk volumes declined. Throughput of liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose by 163.6 per cent and biomass was up 31.6 per cent.

In ro-ro transshipment too, which ended the year slightly up, the British ro-ro trade showed less growth, probably due to the effects of Brexit uncertainty on the British economy. The transhipment of other breakbulk cargo was around the same as the volume in 2017.

For the Port of Rotterdam 2018 was marked by a high level of investment. Gross investments rose 91 per cent to EUR408.1 million (US$461.234 million) versus EUR213.8 million in 2017, the highest amount since the construction of Maasvlakte 2.

By far the largest part of this amount was used to further improve the logistical accessibility of the port of Rotterdam, for example by constructing the Container Exchange Route on the Maasvlakte and the Princess Amalia Viaduct and relocating the port railway via the Theemsweg route.

However, the port authority's internationalisation strategy was also given a significant boost in 2018 by the acquisition of a minority stake in the Brazilian port of Pecem.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority recorded turnover of EUR707.2 million in 2018 (2017: EUR712.1 million). On the income side, both port dues and lease revenue fell. The net result excluding taxes amounted to EUR254.1 million (2017: EUR247.3 million) mainly as a result of lower interest charges.

With the exception of LNG, liquid bulk recorded lower throughput volumes in all subcategories last year. The throughput of crude oil decreased slightly, due in part to somewhat lower refining margins. Even so throughput exceeded 100 million tonnes for the fourth consecutive year.

The throughput of mineral oil products fell mainly as a result of less fuel oil coming into and leaving the port. The huge increase in LNG throughput (up 163.6 per cent) was mainly caused by transshipments of LNG, originating from the Yamal field (Northern Russia), from ice-class LNG tankers to 'normal' LNG tankers, which then transported the cargo onwards to Asia and elsewhere.

With the market under considerable pressure, the dry bulk segment showed a throughput decline of three per cent.

The port authority expects throughput volume to increase slightly in 2019, with container sector growth being lower than the exceptional levels seen in previous years. The port authority is implementing a 'both-and' strategy: strengthening the existing port industrial complex and at the same time embracing new initiatives in the fields of energy transition and digitisation.


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