Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Largest European Port Sees Rise in Container and Bulk Freight in Q1

Meanwhile Gas Sector shows Biggest Hike Again
Shipping News Feature
NETHERLANDS – Figures released by the Port of Rotterdam, and Europe's largest such facility, handling over 460 million tonnes of cargo per annum, show an increase in freight throughput for the first three months of 2019 with 123.9 million tonnes handled, as against 2018 which saw 117.8 million tonnes, a jump of 5.1%.

Shipping containers made the most significant increase with a 7.3% rise in TEU, up to 3.7 million for the period. These carried 38 million tonnes of imports and exports and equated to a 5.9% hike in terms of mass. The Port of Rotterdam Authority says the shipping companies operating in three large alliances in Rotterdam view the deep water port as an important hub in their networks, which has meant an increased concentration of freight throughput. This has resulted in feeder tonnage continuing to increase significantly by 15.1% to 7.3 million tonnes.

As well as feeder lines shuffling short haul freight to and from smaller ports an increasing exchange is also taking place in Rotterdam between deep sea services, which has enabled shipping companies to offer their clients more combinations between loading and unloading ports in Asia and Europe.

It is however, not all good news. Short sea throughput, the intra-European transport, fell by 7.8% to 6.9 million tonnes due to reduced trade with Russia and lower volumes to the United Kingdom in January and February. An noticeably enlarged imbalance between Asia and Europe is resulting in significant increases in empty container throughput, leading to TEU growth being considerably higher than tonnage growth.

In other sectors the dry bulk segment, of which iron ore and scrap, and coal are the main commodities, there were mixed results. Whereas the throughput of iron ore and scrap fell by 17.9% to 5.9 million tonnes as a consequence of 5% lower steel production in Germany, the throughput of coal increased by 15.7% to 7.5 million tonnes. Low coal prices have resulted in increased purchasing and stock build-up. Meanwhile agribulk turnover remained almost the same at 2.6 million tonnes. Other dry bulk throughput increased considerably by 38.8% to 3.3 million tonnes. All in all, dry bulk throughput increased by 3.7% to 19.4 million tonnes.

In total, liquid bulk throughput increased by 4.6% to 58.5 million tonnes. Within this segment, more crude oil (+10.4% to 28.1 million tonnes) was transported than in the first quarter of last year. This difference concerned the increased supply of oil from the US. This oil is relatively cheap and ensures higher margins for the refineries. The throughput of mineral oil products fell in the last quarter (-7.4%) due to reduced trade in fuel oil between Russia and Asia.

Once again, in the first quarter LNG throughput was much higher than last year (+143% to 1.8 million tonnes), with a record volume of over 500,000 tonnes in February. This growth concerned both the supply and distribution of LNG. This confirms both the importance of Rotterdam as LNG trading hub, and the rising importance of liquid gas as a resource. Allard Castelein, CEO Port of Rotterdam Authority, observed:

"We had an excellent start to 2019 with record throughput volumes in the first quarter. The quarterly figures also confirm that Rotterdam is again strengthening its position as storage and transport hub for containers and LNG. For the whole year, we are adhering to our forecast that throughput volumes will increase slightly in 2019”.

Photo: Rotterdam is seeing the liquid gas sector grow monthly.