Port of Rotterdam: The investment machine for North Europe

This article appeared in the February/March edition of Tank Storage Magazine.

Europe’s largest liquid bulk port invested more than €300 million in infrastructure improvements in 2018 to enhance its attractiveness for global trade & business. Executives speak to Tank Storage Magazine about why it is a key storage location and what the future holds.


For many years, the Port of Rotterdam has been the leader in the throughput and storage of crude oil in Northwest Europe and is one of the leading trading hubs globally for liquid bulk products.

Being one of the leading international liquid bulk hubs, the port is a key focal point in Northwest Europe for production and trade and is the heart of several key refineries such as Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Gunvor and Vitol. It is also the price benchmark location for Dated Brent CIF and for several oil products and chemicals.

Coupled with its central location in Europe, strong maritime access as well as the transshipment opportunities and hinterland connections to and from the rest of Europe, it is not surprising that many of the leading tank terminal operators globally have facilities here. Its recent throughput figures highlight its role as North Europe’s main liquid bulk hub. Crude oil remains the leading bulk liquid product with 100.3 million metric tonnes in 2018, followed by 77.7 million metric tonnes of oil products. Other bulk liquids, such as chemicals, vegetable oils, biofuels and orange juice accounted for 28.6 million metric tonnes while LNG accounted for 5.2 million tonnes.

The 100 million tonnes of crude oil entering the port annually is almost entirely destined for the five refineries in the port itself and five in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The port also plays a key role as a distribution hub for petroleum products.

In an interview with Tank Storage Magazine Marc de Vries, business manager for chemicals at the port, says: ‘Globally, Rotterdam has one of the largest short sea trade lanes for bulk chemicals, as it distributes products across Northwest Europe. ‘The good news is that after many storage terminal additions for oil products (in both existing and new terminals), there have been several new additions in chemical terminals, particularly over the last two years.’

Ronald Backers, business intelligence for liquid bulk at the port, adds: ‘Rotterdam is a hub of large-scale production and trade. For the last 50 years it has been a very good location for new developments, which
is shown by recent investments in the refining cluster (for example at the Shell and ExxonMobil refineries). This shows their belief in the strategic role of the port for their future.’

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