The first quarter (January-March) 2014 volumes at the Port of Rotterdam reached 109m tonnes, just 0.2% below the level for the corresponding period last year, with containers seeing a one percent increase to a total of 30m tonnes at 2.9m teu, matching the number of units handled in Q1 2013.
Growth was achieved in both the deep-sea (Asia and North America) and short-sea markets; trade to Baltic Sea countries increased through relocation of transhipment cargo from other ports to Rotterdam, which, along with shipments to the UK, increased due to economic growth in those countries. Ro-ro traffic improved by 9% (400,000 tonnes) thanks to the improving British economy.
“The falling tendency of the second half of 2013 continued initially, but thanks to a strong month in March, the throughput in the first three months nonetheless stayed almost the same,” explained Allard Castelein, the port authority’s CEO.
Looking at changes in the containers sector, he said: “Ship owners are building ever-larger container ships and starting to cooperate intensively to fill them optimally. At the same time, extra terminal capacity has been built in many Northwest European ports while economic growth has lagged behind. Together with customers and stakeholders, we are working to rise to these challenges”.
“For the whole of 2014, I am counting on slight growth, but my attention will mainly be on structural developments that are putting the Port of Rotterdam under pressure. These include the over-capacity in the European refinery sector, and the rapid rise in American shale gas that is putting investments in the European chemicals sector under pressure,” he warned.
Volumes split by other cargo type saw less crude oil (‑2%), mineral oil products (‑14%) and other liquid bulk cargo (‑14%) handled. On the positive side, iron ore and scrap (+5%), coal (+15%), agri-bulk (+69%), other dry bulk cargo (+13%), and other mixed cargo (+9%) all did better.