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  • Container throughput at Port of Rotterdam in H1 2019 rose 6.4% to 452,000 TEUs
  • 2019 July 25 14:02

    Container throughput at Port of Rotterdam in H1 2019 rose 6.4% to 452,000 TEUs

    The Port of Rotterdam achieved throughput of 240.7 million tonnes in the first six months of 2019. That is 3.4% more than in the first six months of 2018. Container throughput, one of the strategic priorities of the Port Authority, rose by 4.8% (in tonnes, +6.4% in TEU) by comparison with the first six months of 2018, which is also a new throughput record. That growth was mainly due to higher import and transhipment volumes, the Port of Rotterdam Authority statistics showed.

    The throughput of dry bulk amounted to 38 million tonnes, an increase of 2.9% over the first half of 2018. Dry bulk accounted for 15.8% of total throughput. Coal throughput rose by 1.3% in the first half of the year, primarily because of stockpiling. A falling trend can be seen in the use of coal for power stations.

    Monthly throughput of iron ore and scrap was very erratic but there was eventually a slight increase. Shortages on the supply side of the ore market (caused by a mine disaster in Brazil and cyclones in Australia) drove up the price of iron ore to approximately $100 per tonne. In Western Europe, steel production declined and demand stagnated, particularly in the automotive industry, while steel imports continue to be high despite the anti-dumping measures taken by the EU.
    Throughput of agricultural bulk was down on last year. The agribulk market is very dependent on weather factors and the quality of the harvest. In the first half of the year, less was imported to Europe because the harvest was higher in Europe itself than last year. The throughput of Other dry bulk increased sharply, especially in the early months of the year. This flow consists primarily of raw materials for industry and construction, and the increase was a reflection of the good economic conditions during this time. During the final months of the first half year, there was less growth in these types of goods, possibly in anticipation of downwardly-adjusted production expectations in the Netherlands and Germany. Biomass rose sharply as co-firing in coal-fired power stations took off well.

    The throughput volume for liquid bulk was 110 million tonnes in the first six months of 2019, 3 million more than in the first six months of 2018, an increase of 2.8 %. Liquid bulk accounted for 45.7% of total throughput.

    The throughput of crude oil increased by 1.4 million tonnes over the first half of 2018, a rise of 2.8%. The refineries produced more in the early months of 2019. A striking development in crude oil was the sharp increase in imports of oil from the USA. This oil was cheaper than Brent oil and so it yielded higher margins.

    Mineral oil products declined by 5.8% by comparison with last year. This corresponds to a throughput reduction of 2.3 million tonnes. The fall was mainly attributable to less trade in fuel oil between Russia and Asia via Rotterdam. This is in line with the declining trend for fuel oil production in Russia in recent years. In addition, it is more economical for some parties to sail directly to Asia with smaller vessels than to make transhipments to larger vessels in Rotterdam.

    The throughput of LNG rose sharply again. By comparison with 2018, LNG throughput increased by 93.9% to 3.8 million tonnes in the first half of 2019. Price effects led to an increase in imports of gas from the United States and the Atlantic Basin. The price difference between Asia and Europe is very small. Given the transport costs, exports of LNG to Asia are therefore less appealing than exports to Europe, particularly for market players in the Atlantic basin.

    The throughput of Other liquid bulk increased by 2 million tonnes over last year, a rise of 14.4%. There was growth in the sub-segments of chemicals, edible oils and biofuels. The latter category in particular was responsible for a sharp upturn in the first half of the year in response to increased demand for blending and the termination of the levy on imports from Argentina and Indonesia.

    Container throughput increased by 4.8% over 2018, which corresponds to 3.5 million tonnes more cargo. This is a throughput record. Measured in TEU, growth was even stronger: 452,000 more TEU, a rise of 6.4%. The share of containers amounted to 32% of total throughput in the first half of 2019. The sharp increase in container throughput over 2018 was largely due to an increase in transhipment, in other words intercontinental cargo transported to and from European destinations via Rotterdam. In addition, the volume of full import containers from Asia increased, a sign of a growing economy in which more consumer goods, semi-finished products and parts are imported for consumption and production in Europe. The strong growth in TEU was related to the increased need to reposition empty containers as a result of the imbalance in trade between Europe and Asia.

    Short sea declined, particularly to the eastern Mediterranean. The causes were a re-routing of shipping lines and the downturn of the Turkish economy.

    Break bulk grew by 2.1% in the first half year. RoRo throughput increased by 2.7% but the first half of 2019 presented a mixed picture because of the threat of a hard Brexit. Companies also took steps to prepare for a hard Brexit in March by stockpiling extensively in the first quarter of 2019. That led to very rapid growth in RoRo. After the postponement of Brexit, throughput fell in the second quarter as companies drew on their available stocks. There was almost no change in Other break bulk by comparison with 2018: the difference was only 8,000 tonnes.

    Investments in infrastructure
    The level of investment in the first six months of 2019 remained high (€ 177.1 million).
    The Port of Rotterdam Authority is actively collaborating on the enhancement of reliability in the logistics chain. The first pile was driven for the Container Exchange Route in May. The construction of the Theemsweg route, which involves rerouting a section of the port railway line, is on schedule.

    Rotterdam is one of the main ports of Europe. The port is the gateway to the European market of more than 350 million consumers. The port is one of the most important junctions of good flows of the world. The annual throughput is about 450 million tonnes.  

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