3.0% growth for port of Antwerp in first 9 months

Publication date: 
25 Oct 2013

The port of Antwerp handled a freight volume of 143,015,226 tonnes in the first nine months of this year, 3.0% more than in the same period last year. Liquid bulk once again produced good growth figures, helping to push the overall volume higher.

Liquid bulk

The volume of liquid bulk handled during the past three quarters rose by 32.0% to 44,472,343 tonnes. Oil derivatives stood at 32,211,312 tonnes by the end of September, representing growth of 36.7%. Chemicals (up 9.2% to 8,467,896 tonnes) and crude oil (up 71.4% to 3,481,679 tonnes) completed the impressive series of results in the liquid bulk segment.

Dry bulk

The dry bulk volume by contrast was down by 25.6% to 10,941,785 tonnes, due mainly to reduced coal imports. 57.4% less coal was handled in the period from January to September. The main reason for this decrease lay in the rail freight rates to the German hinterland, making the rates offered in Antwerp less competitive than in some neighbouring ports.
The Port Authority in collaboration with a number of private-sector players is making strenuous efforts to close this gap. 
 
Containers and breakbulk

The container segment showed a slight decline, both in tonnage and in TEU (standard containers: twenty-foot equivalent units). The number of handled containers (TEU) fell by 1.7% and ended up at 6,404,791 TEU. In tonnage there is a decline of 2.8%, totalling 76,508,857 tonnes in the first nine months.
The ro/ro volume was also down, decreasing by 5.3% to 3,406,385 tonnes. On the other hand the number of cars handled was up by 5.5%, to 969,105. During the past nine months 26.2% more cars were imported than in the same period last year. Conventional breakbulk also declined, down 6.0% in the first three quarters to 7,685,856 tonnes. Apart from steel, which showed a dip of 9.1% to 4,653,763 tonnes, the other breakbulk categories remained fairly stable in volume.

Seagoing ships and prospects 

During the first nine months 2.4% fewer seagoing ships called at the port of Antwerp than in the same period last year, with the number down to 10,769. On the other hand the total tonnage was up by 3.4% to 246,890,887 GT. These figures reflect the trend for fewer but more heavily laden ships visiting the port.

Antwerp once more demonstrated that it has all the capabilities needed to handle even the very largest ships without problem when the 18,000 TEU Mary Maersk berthed here on Saturday 19 October. This vessel, in the class of the largest container carriers in the world, entered the port of Antwerp smoothly without problem on its trial visit. Simulations by the Hydrological Laboratory in Borgerhout had previously demonstrated that such ships are able to call at Antwerp, and the arrival of the Mary Maersk proved this irrefutably.

In the meantime the alliance of the three largest container shipping companies in the world, the P3 Network (Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM), has opted favourably for Antwerp. The port has gained a call from the Far East, while the number of calls on the trans-Atlantic route is being maintained. This definite choice in favour of Antwerp is a clear expression of confidence in the advantages offered by the port, and will result in even more calls by vessels of 13,000 TEU and over. 
 
Added value and employment

A report by the National Bank of Belgium on the economic significance of the Belgian ports once more confirms that the development of the port of Antwerp is of crucial importance for the Flemish economy. In 2012 the port generated direct added value of 9.76 billion euros, an increase of 1.1% compared with the previous year. The amount of direct employment also expanded, with 60,815 people directly employed compared with 60,010 the previous year, an increase of 1.3%.