Thursday, January 18, 2018

Port Conference Details General Cargo and Container Traffic

Dunkirk Movers Freight - from Fruit to Energy
Shipping News Feature
FRANCE – This week saw the country's third largest port hold its annual conference to review performance in 2017 and look forward to the future developments in Dunkirk. The Calais – Dunkirk hub is best known for its RoRo passenger and freight ferry services, but there is so much more to the north eastern neighbour as is evidenced by the type and amount of freight moving through what is the leading French port for commodities from containerised fruit and vegetable to ore and coal imports, with the country's largest LNG terminal and leading rail facility.

There were several highlights throughout 2017, a new Liebherr LHM 550 crane with a lifting capacity of 124 tonnes was delivered in October for the Multibulk Terminal, the expansion of the ArcelorMittal steel contract and, not least, the news in December that DMT is planning to set up a factory to produce construction materials in the Eastern Port of Dunkirk. This project represents a total investment of 40 million Euros over two years, and will lead to the creation of 70 direct jobs at start-up.

2017 was also marked by the start of extension works on the Flanders Quay in the Western Port. This operation, costing a total of more than €60 million is an additional and significant step in the continued development of the container sector in Dunkirk, making it possible to berth the largest ships of the world's fleet under optimum conditions. 2017 was also the year of the Public Consultation about CAP 2020, the Port of Dunkirk's major development project for the next decade. The investment programme amounted to more than €50 million in 2017, an increase of nearly 20% over 2016. In 2018, Dunkerque-Port will finalise the implementation of its Strategic Plan, developing an investment programme of €65 million.

The new business will also have very positive impacts in terms of shipping traffic for the Port, at both import and export, and orders for subcontracting to industrial service companies. In a full year the factory will use 300,000 tonnes of raw materials, procured from the Iberian Peninsula and neighbouring countries. These raw materials will be imported on ships of 15,000 to 30,000 tonnes. 2017 however was not all about success, in common with other of its type Dunkirk suffered some traffic falls whilst other sectors increased significantly.

General cargoes were 9% down overall, with a tonnage of 20.55 million tonnes. Cross-Channel traffic posted a good year but had to contend with fierce competition from the other operators in this sector. Traffic totalled 16.4 tonnes, a fall of 10%. The number of trucks and trailers was 11% lower with 612,000 freight units. Passenger numbers dropped 8% to 2.67 million, and passenger vehicles were down by 9% to 699,000.

Container traffic ended the year with a new record of 374,000 TEU and an increase of 10%. During 2017 this activity suffered the combined effects of Storm Matthew and then Hurricane Maria in the French Antilles, which severely affected the production of bananas and hence the imports of these fruits at the port of Dunkirk. Without these events and their economic impact, Dunkirk would have handled nearly 400,000 TEU. General cargoes showed a slight drop of 3% to 1.15 million tonnes.

Traffic in 2017 was helped by heavy bulks and reached 24.55 million tonnes, an increase of 11%. ArcelorMittal's Dunkirk factory operated at full power, after the shutdowns for maintenance of Blast Furnace 2 (BF2) in 2015 and then Blast Furnace 4 (BF4) in 2016. Ore also benefitted from the high volumes of transhipment at the Western Bulk Terminal for the group's other steelworks, setting a new record with a tonnage of 14.5 million tonnes, a rise of 24%. Coal traffic recovered a good level of activity with 6 tonnes, up 11%.

Grain experienced contrasting results. Imports set a new record with more than 350,000 tonnes and growth of 31%. However, as for all French ports, exports were affected by the very poor harvest in 2016 and the delay in shipments of the 2017 harvest. Export traffic was limited to 950,000 tonnes, a drop of 63% compared with 2016. The traffic in ‘small solid bulks performed very well at 2.8 million tonnes, an increase of 28%.

After several difficult years, liquid bulks are benefitting from the opening of the LNG terminal. Petroleum products again climbed 3% to a tonnage of 3.4 tonnes. Gas comprises industrial gas and LNG. Total traffic reached 1.3 million tonnes, soaring by 230% over 2016. The LNG terminal completed its first year of operation and recorded 866,000 tonnes of LNG. Other liquid bulks were down 26% to 0.4 million tonnes. Dunkirk holds an undisputed position as the French port with the most diversified traffic excluding petroleum, with 47 million tonnes.

The year 2018 will focus mainly on taking forward the major development projects for the Western Port, notably with the commissioning of the Flanders Quay extension, as well as continued works to develop the Dunkerque Logistique International Sud logistics park. Projects include:

  • Finalisation of works to extend the Flanders Quay (Container Terminal): €30.3 million
  • Continuation of works to develop the Dunkerque Logistique International Sud logistics park: €9.50 million
  • Start of the 3rd phase of works to improve safety and security at the Channel Terminal: €4 million
  • Continuation of studies for the CAP 2020 project: €1.2 million

The studies and works to separate the Port's rail network from the national rail grid (signalling and power supply) will also continue in 2018, in a total amount of €5.7 million. This operation will be completed at the end of 2019.

Finally, Dunkerque-Port will continue its efforts to maintain its assets in operational condition, with a programme of major maintenance works on its structures (quays, locks, waterway structures and compliance of constructions) and ongoing operations for the recycling of un-dumpable dredging sediment. To implement this year's investment programme, Dunkerque-Port will again rely on the support of its partners, and in particular the State and the Hauts-de-France Region under the 2015-2020 State-Regions Plan Contract, the European Union, Dunkirk Urban Community, the Water Agency and the UKBF.