Port of Rotterdam throughput drops slightly

Port of Rotterdam throughput drops slightly

At 109 million tonnes, throughput for the port of Rotterdam in the first quarter of 2013 was 1% lower than the same period last year. Looking at the different cargo types, handling decreased for agribulk (-11%), coal (-2%), crude oil (-7%), other liquid bulk (-2%), containers (-1%) and other general cargo (-20%). The handling of iron ore and scrap (+10%), other dry bulk (+14%), mineral oil products (+3%) and roll on/roll off (+1%) increased.

Hans Smits, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority: “Compared to the first quarter of 2012, we had one (leap) day less, equivalent to one percent of handling, but the inclusion of te port of Dordrecht since 1 January did supply half a percent. Viewed in that light, on balance throughput remained more or less the same in the first three months. For the whole year, we expect throughput to show modest growth”.

Liquid bulk
The throughput of liquid bulk decreased by 3% to 53 million tonnes. The supply of crude oil dropped by 1.7 million tonnes to 24 million tonnes. This is due mainly to the high supply of last year. Demand for refinery products in Europe may have been low during the past three months, but this mainly affected Southern European refineries. The incoming and outgoing throughput of mineral oil products increased by 600,000 tonnes to almost 21 million tonnes. This is thanks mainly to increased trade in petrol (export) and gas oil (import). The handling of other liquid bulk dropped by 150,000 tonnes to over 8 million tonnes due to disappointing orders for the European chemical industry and the fact that the Odfjell tank terminal is not yet fully operational.

Dry bulk
The total throughput of dry bulk increased by 4% to 20 million tonnes. Coal throughput dropped slightly to 6.7 million tonnes due to stocks at the terminals being cut back, especially those of cokes coal. The outlook for the entire year remains positive. The handling of iron ore increased by 750,000 tonnes because a major steel producer now supplies the ore in the largest possible ships (Vale Max). The port of Rotterdam is the only place in Europe where these ships can berth. From here it is transported by smaller sea-going ships to Bremen and, since recently, Dunkirk and Ghent. The handling of other dry bulk (building materials, minerals, biomass) made relatively large gains of 400,000 tonnes thanks to the addition of Dordrecht. Little growth is expected apart from this, due to the bad economic situation in the construction industry in particular.

Containers, general cargo
Container throughput dropped in tonnes by a small percent to 30 million tonnes, but increased in units by 4% to 2.8 million TEU. Considerably more empty containers were handled than in the first three months of 2012. It is expected that this will be the picture for the entire first six months due to the disappointing developments in the European economy. RoRo traffic remained relatively stable as expected at more than 4 million tonnes, in accordance with the stagnating economy in the United Kingdom. The drop in throughput of other general cargo by 300,000 tonnes to more than one million tonnes can be attributed to the reduced handling of slabs (cutback) and other steel products.

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