Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Swedish Port Provides Insight into Nordic Container Freight and Other Cargo Flows

Figures Released Show Trends in Throughput
Shipping News Feature

SWEDEN – As the Nordic region's largest port, handling around half of the areas container freight, the Port of Gothenburg latest figures provide a useful insight into trends for a variety of cargoes.

The latest assessments show that the port is actually picking up an even bigger percentage of box traffic with the Swedish container market showing a slight downturn during the first half of 2019 with a 1% fall, whilst Gothenburg reports a steady rise in throughput. Between January and September this year, the rise stood at 4%, due largely to continued influx of hinterland rail volumes at the port.

Staying with containers 2016-2017 saw a downturn, with a recovery particularly noticeable in 2018 with road-based traffic from western Sweden and its hinterland gradually returning. This trend continued into 2019, attributable in the main to higher volumes from the rest of Sweden. This can be seen in the Q1-Q3 statistics published recently by Gothenburg Port Authority.

The vast majority of inland freight arrives at the Port of Gothenburg by rail, with volumes increasing by 20% between January and September. Long-distance volumes from northern and eastern Sweden are also making a comeback. Elvir Dzanic, Gothenburg Port Authority chief executive, observed:

“The Port of Gothenburg serves the whole of Sweden and the current trend is underpinned by our continued nationwide upturn in the container sector. The focus at the Port of Gothenburg is on ensuring industry has uninterrupted access to external markets, despite an uncertain business climate and a cautious domestic market.”

Other modes it seems are not showing the same resilience, with the uncertainty in the economy leading to an impact on volumes in a number of the port’s other freight categories. From historically high levels in recent years, the port’s intra-European RoRo traffic fell by 5% in January-September. The downturn is most noticeable on the Belgian routes in the wake of the unusually high volumes reported by the automotive industry in 2018.

The throughput of new cars at the Port of Gothenburg fell by 8% compared with the previous year, due mainly to a decrease in imports as a result of the fall in new car sales in Sweden during the same period. On the plus side, a turnaround was noted in September with 26,500 cars handled.

Another drop was seen in the handling of oil and energy products, down 10% at 15.9 million tonnes for January-September. The fall during the first half of the year was countered by an increase of 5% during the third quarter, driven by higher crude oil inventories and the fact that the refineries are back at full production following the maintenance shutdown earlier in the year.