Since January 2013, the sea port of Dordrecht (throughput approx. 3 million tonnes a year) has been operated by the Port of Rotterdam Authority. Dordrecht throughput has therefore been included in Rotterdam’s throughput figures for the first time this year.
Within the dry bulk sector, all types of goods performed better than in 2012. Steel production in Germany is slightly below the 2012 level. The 9.4% (to 36 million tonnes) increase in the handling of iron ore and scrap was largely due to the concentration of imports in very large vessels (Valemax) in Rotterdam and their transit to steel plants in Ghent, Bremen and Dunkirk. In addition to this, ThyssenKrupp Steel started up a blast furnace.
Coal throughput benefited from the decline in German coal mining and, in particular, the higher demand for coal. This was caused by the low price of coal, the testing of the new coal-fired power plants on the Maasvlakte and the start of a new coal-fired power plant in Lünen (Germany). Total coal throughput was 17.1% up, to 30 million tonnes.
Agribulk throughput (+28.1%, 10 million tonnes) was given a boost by export of wheat and import for the extraction of oil from seeds and (soy) beans (‘crushing’). The handling of other dry bulk, such as minerals, construction materials and smaller types of ore, was up by 1.8% to 12 million tonnes. This was partly due to the inclusion of Dordrecht’s throughput figures. Only if the construction sector and the chemical industry pick up are things expected to improve.
Crude oil throughput fell by 7.3% to 91 million tonnes, a historic low. The refineries in the Rotterdam complex had to cope with low demand for refinery products in Europe, given a structural overcapacity. At the same time, competition on the world market for refinery products is increasing. These were among the reasons for holding several large-scale maintenance shutdowns in the refining sector. Trade in mineral oil products was lively for the majority of the year. This applied particularly to import, whilst export fell. In the end, 1.8% more diesel, jet fuel and fuel oil (export in VLCCs) and suchlike were handled: in total 83 million tonnes. 0.2% less other liquid bulk (33 million tonnes) was loaded and unloaded.
The handling of chemicals, which accounts for by far the largest proportion of other liquid bulk, is still suffering from the crisis. Higher import duties led to a fall in the import of biofuels. The low price of palm oil, which encouraged stock building, was a positive factor. LNG throughput was 25% higher than the very low level in 2012. Due to the high prices of products, import from outside Europe is still low. However, around 700,000 tonnes of LNG were handled, thanks partly to regular import in small vessels from Norway and re-export.
Containers and breakbulk
The container sector shows a decline in both tonnes (-3.1%, 122 million tonnes) and numbers of TEU (-1.7%). An important reason is the low demand for consumer and other goods resulting from the economic situation. In addition, cargo shifted to Hamburg, ports in Scandinavia and the Baltic were more frequently served directly by vessels from the Far East and Rotterdam suffered capacity problems during peak volumes. Finally, industrial unrest caused vessels to choose other ports.
Deepsea volume fell by 3.4% (in TEU) and feeder volume was down by 11.5% (in TEU). On the other hand, short sea traffic increased by 13.2% (in TEU), mainly as a result of the economic growth in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic states. Thanks to the improvement in the British economy, roll on/roll off rose by 3.5%, to 19 million tonnes.
Other general cargo is 18.2% (to 5 million tonnes) down on 2012. Incoming trade in slabs, semi-manufactured steel products, came to a halt and the handling of other steel products is suffering as a consequence of the weak European market. The containerisation of fruit, non-ferrous metals and forest products continues. The decline in the breakbulk sector as a whole was 1.8% (Port of Rotterdam).