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Rotterdam reports ‘slight increase’ in throughput

Cargo throughput in the Port of Rotterdam increased by 0.8% in 2011 to 433 mt; 3 mt more than the previous record year, 2010.
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Supply grew by 0.8% to 308 mt and distribution by 0.7% to 126 mt. There was a decrease in throughput of iron ore and scrap (-6%), crude oil (-8%) and mineral oil products (-6%). More agribulk (+18%), coal (+12%), other dry bulk (+7%), other liquid bulk (+2%), containers (+10%), roll-on/roll-off (+4%) and other general cargo (+13%) were handled.

“We are recording growth for the ninth time in ten years, in spite of the disappointing economy and the fall in growth of throughput since November in the port,” said Hans Smits, Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO.

“This demonstrates the importance of ongoing investment in capacity and new activities, such as the storage of LNG and the production of bio-ethanol. The largest growth areas were transhipment of containers, coal and agribulk.

“Throughput in the port is strongly-connected to developments in relevant world trade and German industrial production. On the basis of this, we expect to maintain the current level next year. In the second half of the year, I expect that we will have put the European confidence crisis behind us.

"Businesses and the Port Authority will continue investing in such things as Maasvlakte 2, container and tank terminals, because we also expect reasonable growth as from 2013,” Smits said.

The total quantity of dry bulk handled increased by 3% to 87 mt.

Throughput of coal increased by 12% to 27 mt. Closure of blast furnaces led to a reduction in demand for coking coal, and mine closures meant a further fall in German supplies.

Demand for energy coal, 60% of Rotterdam’s total, remained under expectation for the first 9 months because of Germany’s use of much wind, solar and nuclear energy from France and the Czech Republic. Following the decision to disconnect the German nuclear power stations, demand for coal increased quickly and dramatically. A stabilisation in coal throughput is expected for 2012, the port said.

Throughput of ore and scrap fell by 6% to 38 mt. In the first half year, supply was poor because 2010 stores were being used. Distribution to the hinterland was at the usual level. In the second half of the year, steel production was scaled-down, including closure of blast furnaces in Liège, Florange and Eisenhüttenstadt and a further reduction is expected.

The port said that the effect on throughput so far is limited because throughput towards the end of 2010 was also low because of high stores.

Other dry bulk (minerals, ore concentrates, construction materials) grew by 7% to 13 mt. Throughput of biomass increased by a few hundred thousand tonnes. Rotterdam now has an approximate 30% share in the Western-European import of wood pellets. An exceptional amount of (grit) salt was imported in 2011, port statistics show.

Throughput of agribulk (grain, oil seeds, derivatives) increased by 18% to 10 mt. The disappointing European rape seed and wheat crop, in combination with a Russian export ban in the first six months, resulted in increases in imports by sea. The temporary reduction of import tariffs on food grain also contributed to this.

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