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Container volumes rise at Port of Dunkerque despite COVID-19 pandemic

Container volumes rise at Port of Dunkerque despite COVID-19 pandemic
The Port of Dunkerque

The Port of Dunkerque saw its container volumes rise by 2% in 2020, despite the pandemic, however the port’s overall annual traffic dropped 14% compared with 2019.

Down from the previous year’s 52.6m tonnes of annual traffic, port traffic dropped to 45.2m tonnes having been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Containers grew to 463,000 teu in 2020, with full containers increasing by 5% to 290,000 teu in the same period – over the past 10 years, cumulative growth in the sector has now reached 130%.

Growth was also seen in cross-channel freight, which grew 4% to 607,000 units), and grain traffic reached a new record and grew by 63% to 3.3m tonnes.

On the other hand, the tourism sector was hit hard by the pandemic as the number of passengers dropped 54% and the number of passenger cars fell 70%.

The break-bulk sector also suffered, down 50% to 600,000 tonnes due to the drop in exports of steel products.

Solid bulk fell severely by 22% to 18.2m tonnes, iron ore was affected by the drastic drop in production at the Dunkerque steel plant seeing a 34% fall in volumes to 8.7m tonnes.

As demand for steam coal fell, coal also saw a decline in volumes by 28% to 3.6m tonnes.

In a statement, the port noted: “2020 was a special year for the industrial sector. The health crisis caused a significant slowdown in activity for a majority of players, even if some others on the contrary had a satisfactory year (production of alcohol for the manufacturer of hydro- alcoholic gell,s for example.

“The region’s wide range of assets in terms of equipment, and forward-looking development logic (preparation of platforms, investments in utilities), made it possible to remain competitive and welcome investors who create wealth and jobs.”

Dunkerque Port reduced its 2020 investment budget to €21.6m (US$26m) from the initially planned figure of €37.7m (US$46m) after considering the economic crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As such, it gave priority to the operations for which the works phase was in progress and those which were essential for the development of traffic at the port.

The main investment operations carried out in 2020 included the continuation of work in the major industries and logistics zones, upkeep of assets for structures, the acquisition of equipment and tools, the creation of a new electrical substation and more.

The 2021 investment budget, approved by the supervisory board on November 20, 2020, amounted to €51m (US$62m) and will be devoted to the completion and handover of the major logistics and industrial platforms.

It will also see the start of the first operations of the 2020-2024 Strategic Project, costing €19m (US$23m) which includes the extension of the dry port and the development of intermodality.

Works to replace the roll-on roll-off (RoRo) 1 linkspan with the creation of a new RoRo 6 linkspan and the extension and protection of the service port in order to berth a greater number of large ships will also begin.

In 2021, the port aims to launch the SDAN warehouse with 43,000 sq m of floor space, extend the CONHEXA warehouse dedicated to fruit and vegetable logistics and start the administrative examination phase of project for a warehouse with 20,000 sq m of floor space.