Cargo throughput in the Port of Rotterdam increased by 1.7% to 333 million tonnes during the first nine months of 2012. Growth can be attributed completely to exports: incoming cargo was stable (0%), while outgoing cargo rose 7%. Throughput of crude oil (+6%), mineral oil products (+13%), other liquid bulk (+5%), containers (+2%) and roll on/roll off (+2%) increased. Less agribulk (-15%), iron ore and scrap (-16%), coal (-5%), other dry bulk (-8%), LNG (-6%) and other general cargo (-24%) was loaded and unloaded. Dry bulk handling decreased by 11% to 58 million tonnes and liquid bulk handling increased by 9% to 161 million tonnes.
Hans Smits, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority: ‘Throughput in the port enjoyed a good third quarter mainly due to the oil sector. Growth weakened during the third quarter due to declining world trade and while the corresponding quarter of 2011 was relatively strong. Across the entire year, we still expect a small growth of approximately 1%”.
Agribulk (grains, seeds, feed ingredients) throughput decreased by 15% to 6 million tonnes. Imports are disappointing due to bad harvests and high prices. The prospects for imports for the coming months, the start of the new harvest year, are more positive.
Less coal (-5% to 18 million tonnes) was handled. There is an increased demand for energy coal, but until recently this was satisfied mainly from the stocks. A large number of coal ships are expected to refill the stocks to winter level in het 4th quarter. Despite reduced steel production, the import of coking coal remained steady due to concentration of the supply for German steel mills in Rotterdam.
Throughput of ore and scrap dropped by 16% to almost 25 million tonnes. The main European steel manufacturers have scaled down the steel production capacity. Following the construction sector, the demand from the automotive industry is also starting to waver.
8% less other dry bulk (especially minerals for the production of glass, paper, steel and chemicals) was loaded and unloaded. Of the three large purchasing sectors (construction, chemicals and metal) only the chemical industry is still performing at a respectable level. The throughput volume over nine months amounted to 9 million tonnes.
The supply of crude oil increased by 6% and is back to its ‘normal’ level of on average 25 million tonnes per quarter. There were no major maintenance breaks this year. Because production capacity was closed elsewhere in Europe, the production level of the refineries in Rotterdam was high.
The throughput of mineral oil products (petrol, diesel, kerosene, fuel oil) increased by 13% to 61 million tonnes with respect to the first 9 months of last year. Throughput of fuel oil increased strongly due to more Russian export and greater trading volume with Asia thanks to favourable price differences. The available tank capacity was also expanded, by STR, BTT and ETT among others. Handling of LNG was limited due to the high demand for LNG in Asia and the corresponding high price level.
Other liquid bulk, mainly basic chemicals as far as volume goes but also bio fuels, vegetable oils and fruit juices, increased by 5% to 25 million tonnes. The decrease in throughput at Odfjell was ‘compensated’ by rising throughput of biodiesel and palm oil by other terminals, with the increased tank capacity at BTT also playing a part.
The supply of containers dropped slightly, but outgoing cargo increased by 5% to 48.7 million tonnes. This is 2.5 million tonnes more than the incoming containers. The total container throughput in tonnes increased by 1.7%. There was a drop of 1.1% in 20-foot container units to 8.9 million TEU especially because considerably less empty containers were handled during the first half of the year. The economic crisis has a clear effect on container transport. For example, the traditional peak in supply was lower this autumn did not occur. The lower supply dampens feeder transport, while short sea grew significantly thanks to growth of volume to and from the Mediterranean Sea area, among other things.
Roll-on/roll-off transport grew by 2% to a good 13 million tonnes. The major part of the roro throughput is stagnating due to the shrinking British economy, but the handling of paper (products) on cassettes increased strongly.
The handling of other general cargo declined further (-24% to 4.7 million tonnes), mainly due to the lower throughput of slabs and steel. The economic crisis has resulted in a lower demand for steel and a steel package also shifted to Antwerp.
Throughput in the Port of Rotterdam January - September 2011 and 2012.
Container throughput in the Port of Rotterdam January - September 2011 and 2012.