Port of Rotterdam: Container throughput drives growth
The main driver of growth in the port of Rotterdam throughout 2017 was a particularly strong growth in container throughput of 12.3% (in tonnes). Total cargo throughput rose by 1.3%, with the port returning to the growth trend seen before 2016. Total tonnage increased from 461 million to 467 million. The increase in containers was offset by a fall in dry bulk of 2.6% and in wet bulk of 4.1%. Break bulk (Roll on/Roll off and other break bulk) increased by 7%.
Container throughput rose spectacularly by 10.9% to 13.7 million TEU (twenty feet equivalent unit, the unit for containers) and, by weight, by 12.3% to 142.6 million tonnes. In the second half of the year, tonnage throughput was 14.1% higher (12.4% in TEU) than in the same period in the preceding year. There has been steady growth over the past five half years. Rotterdam's share of the container market is now at its highest level since 2000 at 31% (2017 through to Q3).
Most growth was seen for Asia and South America and traffic from North America. Feeder volume in particular grew strongly (21% in TEU) for all European shipping areas and in particular Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Growth in short sea amounted to 10.2% (TEU), with a particularly sharp increase in throughput for services to and from the Mediterranean and ScanBaltic. The hinterland volume also rose (6.3%).
This growth and the increase in feeder volume confirm the strong position of Rotterdam in the networks of container shipping companies and major alliances. Throughput on Maasvlakte 2 rose sharply and volume also increased at almost all other terminals.
The throughput of loaded containers increased by 12.1% (TEU), outstripping the rise in empty containers (6.1%).
The throughput of crude oil increased by 2.3% to 104.2 million tonnes. This was mainly due to the higher utilization rates for the refineries. The incoming and outgoing flows of mineral oils and oil products fell by 10.8% to 79.2 million tonnes.
A fall in the throughput of 'middle distillated products', in particular kerosene, was partially offset by a growth in naphtha throughput. LNG throughput increased by 16.5%, mainly as a result of higher deliveries to the gas network and the development of LNG bunker facilities.
The throughput of chemical products remained stable, while biofuels rose due to a rise in European demand for biodiesel. Vegetable and animal products also increased in volume.
The throughput of remaining products from the other liquid bulk category declined, as a result of which the volume for the category as a whole fell by 7.3%.
Dry bulk, RoRo and Other Break Bulk
Throughput of ores and scrap remained stable at over 31 million t, although there was a slight shift in the tonnages, with scrap increasing and ore falling off slightly. Coal volume fell by 9.5% because eight coal-fired plants (two in the Netherlands and six in Germany) were closed and the other power stations produced less. The throughput of coke, which is needed for steel production, declined slightly.
Roll on/Roll off benefited from the use of larger vessels, the expansion of the number of services and growth in existing services. The result was a growth of 6.2%. Other break bulk rose by 9.8% as a result of increased exports and among others higher input of steel and an increase in aluminum throughput.
The Port Authority expects the throughput volume to increase further in 2018, with growth in the container sector being lower than the exceptional growth in 2017.
Also the Port Authority expects to maintain the high level of investment in the coming year. Important projects include the development of the Hartel Tank Terminal and the changes to the port railway via Thamesweg, eliminating the clash between transport by rail and ocean-going vessels.