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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Antwerp and Rotterdam vie for traffic as competition heats up

Competition between Northern European ports has stepped up in the first half of the year but tight margins have failed to impede growth. The Port of Antwerp led rival Rotterdam for container handling growth in H1 2015, posting an increase of 9.5% year on year to 4.83 million TEU while Rotterdam grew just 3.7% y-o-y to 6 million TEU.

Both ports saw cargo throughput grow over 6% in the first half, with Rotterdam posting  an increase in total throughput of 6.8% and Antwerp 6.4%, compared to the first half of 2014

“The gradual recovery of the European economy is the most important cause, followed by an increase in transhipment traffic (+6.6% via feeders). The latter reflects the most important trend in this sector, namely the continuing trend of increased scale,” the Port of Rotterdam authority said in a statement.

For the Port of Rotterdam oil products were a significant growth driver with throughput of general oil products rising 29.7%, crude oil  increasing 8.3% and Ro-Ro transport growing 9.6%.

“The relatively low oil price resulted in a build-up of stock but, at the same time, was largely responsible for the refineries having considerable margins,” a spokesperson for the Port of Rotterdam commented. “This caused the capacity utilisation rate of the refineries to be fairly high… coinciding with a period when the price of fuel oil was subject to ’open arbitrage’, this resulted in exports to the Far East via Rotterdam increasing sizably.”

While turnover growth for the Port of Antwerp was driven by container traffic bulk cargo also grew 7.4% to 57.5 million tonnes and roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) cargo rose 3.9% to 2.43 million tonnes.

The formation an alliance between several container shipping companies was highlighted as  a driver  for Far East trade growth particularly in relation to the port’s Deurganck dock

 “It s expected that when the MSC shipping company moves its operations from the Delwaide dock to the Deurganck dock the growth in the latter will continue to be strong. Nevertheless the Port Authority underlines the importance of having the first phase of the new container handling capacity below the locks becoming operational by 2021,” a spokesperson for Port of Antwerp commented.

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