Antwerp Port Achieves Highest Throughput
The port of Antwerp handled a freight volume of 148,344,168 tonnes during the first nine months of this year. That’s 3.7% more than the same period last year. Both the container volume and the liquid bulk volume were strongly up, which helps to explain the continuing growth. If the port stays on trend it will finish this year with a new record freight volume. Last year was already an all-time record with a volume of 190.8 million tonnes.
Containers and breakbulk
The container volume rose during the first nine months by 6.0% to 81,127,972 tonnes. In terms of standard containers the growth is 5.0%, ending at 6,725,777 TEU. Conventional breakbulk on the other hand shows negative growth, down 3.2% to 7,438,174 tonnes although there is some positive news to report: steel imports were strongly up during the past quarter, so that the total over the past nine months looks cautiously optimistic, up 4.6% to 4,868,370 tonnes. Conventional imports of fruit for their part were down by 15.4% to 795,044 tonnes. While this does not mean that Antwerp is losing trade in this segment, it does point to a shift in the method of transport, with more and more fruit being carried in containers. The ro/ro volume fell slightly during the past nine months to 3,379,423 tonnes, down 0.8% compared with the first nine months of 2013. The number of cars handled declined by 5.7% to 914,051.
The liquid bulk volume expanded during the past three quarters by 3.8% to 46,163,344 tonnes. Oil derivatives for their part were up by 4.9% to 33,798,790 tonnes, while chemicals managed growth of 1.9% to 8,626,899 tonnes. Only the volume of crude oil failed to match the general growth, as it ended the month of September down slightly by 0.6% to 3,459,736 tonnes. After a record year in 2013 when the volume of liquid bulk shot up by 31.4%, Antwerp has further consolidated its position with these overall growth figures. The port of Antwerp is an important investment location for many companies in the oil and chemical cluster. Refinery Total has begun construction of a new installation on its site in Antwerp, which will produce more diesel and kerosene among other things. The 32 modules for this plant were built by a construction yard outside the plant and will be carried to the Total site by outsize transport over the next few months. Months of preparation have gone into the transport of these modules, some of which are up to 22 metres tall. Indeed the transport operations will be the largest and heaviest ever on the public highways of Antwerp. At the beginning of this month Exxon Mobil started construction of a new unit on its site in Antwerp, representing an investment of more than 1 billion dollars in the refinery. Everything is possible at the port of Antwerp!
The dry bulk volume came to 10,235,255 tonnes, a decrease of 6.5% compared with the same period last year. Once again, the amount of coal handled is mainly responsible, having contracted by 39.6% or 1,175,659 tonnes during the past nine months. Imports and exports of fertilisers also fell, by 9.7% to 2,829,990 tonnes. Ores (up 5.5% to 2,114,237 tonnes) and sand and gravel (up 27.4% to 991,670 tonnes) by contrast once more showed significantly better figures than during the first nine months of the previous year.
The number of ships calling at Antwerp during the past nine months was 10,526, a decrease of 2.3%. However the gross tonnage rose further by 1.9% to 251,604,830 GT, thus confirming the trend towards fewer but larger and more heavily laden ships coming to Antwerp.
Added value and employment
The port of Antwerp generated direct added value of 9.9 billion euros in 2013, according to a flash estimate by the National Bank of Belgium. This puts the port slightly below the level for 2012, down by 1.6%. The direct employment rose in 2013 by 1.0%, to 61,873 full-time equivalents.