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Published: 22 July 2013      

Rotterdam slightly down in 1H/2013

Allard Castelein
Throughput in the port of Rotterdam in the first half of the year decreased by 0.9% compared to the first half of 2012

This was primarily caused by a reduction in the shipment of crude oil. Other sectors were unable to offset this reduction. Throughput of crude oil fell by 9%, resulting from the overall market situation (low demand), the drawdown of stocks because of expected lower future prices ("backwardation") and as a result of maintenance stops by refineries. Crude oil makes up almost a quarter of the port’s throughput. This means that a significant decrease in the throughput of crude oil significantly affects the total. The increase in the throughput of mineral oil products (4%) resulting from increased exports partially offset this loss.

There was an increase in the shipment of heavy fuel oil from Russia, via Rotterdam to the Far East. The volume of incoming LNG in the first half of this year dropped considerably. The reason for this is that almost all LNG being shipped is going to Asia. Other liquid bulk increased slightly (1%). Overall, the throughput of liquid bulk declined by 3%.

Throughput of coal increased by13%, primarily destined for power generation. Coal power plants are cheaper to operate than gas power plants due to the price difference between coal and gas. In addition, the throughput in Rotterdam increased as a result of the bundling of flows and the closure of mines in the hinterland. Iron ore and scrap metal also increased in throughput (6%). This was not so much the result of increased steel production, as it was due to transhipment to other ports in Europe. In the first half of the year somewhat more agribulk (2%) and other dry bulk (1%) passed through the port. This represents a growth of 7% in the total dry bulk.

The container segment experienced a small decrease in tonnage, down by 2%. The number of containers handled slightly by 1%. The reason for the decline in weight is the persisting economic malaise in Europe. The highest contraction in the number of tonnes is related to feeder transport (off by 6%). This is partially because of the fact that feeder connections between the Baltic states and Rotterdam have shifted to ports in North Germany.

Another reason, says Rotterdam port authority, is the persistent overcapacity in the container shipping industry. As a result, to save on costs ship owners not only slow steam their large ships, but also make more direct port calls than in the past. The latter leads to a decrease in the total feeder volume in the Hamburg-Le Havre range. The decrease in feeder volume is furthermore responsible for a slight decline in deep sea volume (-2%).

Short sea traffic increased by 5% in part because of the growth in container volume to the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Ro-ro traffic increased by 2%. This sector is highly dependent on the British economy, which is not yet showing any signs of a strong recovery. Other general cargo dropped significantly (-23%), primarily because of the decrease in the import of steel. In total 4% less breakbulk was handled.

Since 1 January 2013, the operation of Dordrecht seaport has been fully integrated with the Rotterdam seaport. Dordrecht’s throughput figures (around 3 Mtpa) have therefore been included in the throughput figures effective from this date.

  • Allard Castelein will become Chief Executive of the Port of Rotterdam Authority on 1 January 2014. Castelein, a native of Rotterdam, is currently Vice President Environment at Royal Dutch Shell. The port's two shareholders (the Municipality of Rotterdam and the State) have appointed Castelein to succeed Hans Smits, who will be leaving the port authority at the end of December, after a period of nine years.



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