Transhipment reaches record levels in Port of Antwerp
The Port of Antwerp ended 2016 with an expected transhipment record of over 214 million tonnes of goods handled. For the first time in the port’s history, container transhipment passed the milestone of 10 million handled maritime TEUs (standard size containers). Liquid bulk handling has also grown year on year and, with an estimated annual throughput of just under 70 million tonnes, is the second driver behind the Port of Antwerp’s traffic growth.
There were positive figures in the sectors of conventional cargo and dry bulk, but overall, the balance ended up negative in both segments. The increase in container shipment put pressure on the conventional handling of fruit and paper. Coal and ore traffic has declined dramatically in all West European ports.
Container traffic grew by 4.1 percent over the past 12 months and amounted to 117,979,180 tonnes, meeting expectations. This corresponds to 10,056,603 handled TEUs (+ 4.2%). The consistent growth has consolidated Antwerp’s market share in the Hamburg-Le Havre Range. In recent years, for instance, the Scheldt port has managed to significantly improve its position in relation to the Far East, at the expense of its immediate rivals Rotterdam and Hamburg.
Ro-Ro traffic declined by 1.9%, amounting to 4,564,619 tonnes for the whole year. The negative figure is attributable to the export segment, as Ro-Ro exports to Africa and the Middle East fell by 15 and 18% respectively. Exports to all countries around the Persian Gulf have also decreased. Ro-Ro imports, by contrast, went up by +9,5% this year.
The handling of conventional cargo dropped by -2.4% with a total of 9,764,796 tonnes for the year. Steel handling volumes rose sharply by 12%, but the decreased transshipment of non-ferrous, paper and cellulose and fruit pulled the overall balance in this segment into the red.
The transhipment of liquid bulk rose by 4.5% to 69,653,984 tonnes for the year. Growth in this segment is particularly strong among tank storage companies. Maritime transshipment for the chemical industry has remained fairly stable.
The handling of dry bulk continues to decline: after four quarters, a volume of 12,441,379 tonnes was recorded, representing a decrease of 9.8% compared to the same period in 2015. More specifically, negative figures were recorded in the handling of ores, fertilizers, minerals and coal.
The number of ships increased by 0.7%, with 14,523 ocean-going vessels berthing at the port of Antwerp up to 31 December. In addition to the rising number of ships, the spectacular increase in gross tonnage definitely deserves a mention, up 9.5% to 402,665,000 GRT. This figure simply illustrates that ever larger ocean-going vessels are calling into the Port of Antwerp: in 2016 Antwerp recorded 458 (+13,000 TEUs), while there had been 320 in the same category the year before.