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Rotterdam port's recovery remains strong in the first nine months of 2010

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Rotterdam port's recovery remains strong in the first nine months of 2010

October 21, 2010 - 22:07
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ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands, Oct. 22, 2010 (Press Release) -

Goods throughput in the port of Rotterdam increased over the first nine months of 2010 by 13.4% to 321 million tonnes. Virtually all categories of goods showed a positive trend: iron ore and scrap (+112%), coal (+2%), other dry bulk (+31%), crude oil (+3%), mineral oil products (+5%), other liquid bulk (+9%), containers (+15%), roll on/roll off (+6%), other general cargo (+14%). Only agribulk was down (-7%). Dry bulk handling shot up by 40% to 65 million tonnes. Liquid bulk grew substantially, by 5% to 154 million tonnes. The growth in general cargo is somewhere in-between: +14% to 102 million tonnes.

Hans Smits, Chief Executive of the Port of Rotterdam Authority: "The growth is levelling off, but is still slightly higher than expected. The port continues to profit from strong European exports, for which a lot of raw materials also need to be imported. Total throughput is now exactly at the 2008 level. As mentioned earlier: it is exciting to see whether or not we will succeed in climbing out of a deep trough to achieve a record in just one year."

Dry bulk

The handling of agribulk (grains, seeds, animal feed ingredients) fell by 7% to 6 million tonnes, due to the use of European rather than overseas raw materials such as rapeseed. Total losses were limited by the 4% rise in the export of grains arriving by train from Central Europe.

Slightly more (+2% to 19 million tonnes) coal was handled. Imports of coke coal for the steel industry remain high. Although coal for energy production started to catch up in the second quarter, this trend did not really continue. The competition from natural gas seems to account for this.

The handling of ores and scrap more than doubled, to 31 million tonnes. The steel plants are running again at virtually full capacity, thanks to the high demand from the automotive industry and machine building. In the meantime, the handling capacity of the Rotterdam terminals has even become stretched.

31% more other dry bulk (mainly minerals for the production of glass, paper, steel and chemicals) was loaded and unloaded. In the last two of these sectors, production is high again. Throughput for the construction sector will remain low for quite a while. The volume over 9 months amounted to 9 million tonnes.

Liquid bulk

Imports of crude oil were up 3% to 74 million tonnes. Despite the low refining margins, Rotterdam's oil throughput remains fairly stable due to the strength of the cluster. Elsewhere - Wilhelmshaven, Marseilles, Dunkirk - refining capacity has been or will be halted.

The increase in the handling of mineral oil products (petrol, diesel, kerosene, fuel oil) declined slowly over the past nine months (+5%, to 57 million). Given what is expected to be a fairly low contango in the fourth quarter too, growth will not increase again sharply.

Throughput figures for other liquid bulk, in volume most basic chemicals but also biofuels, vegetable oils and fruit juices, were 9% up. The recovery to 24 million tonnes is thanks mainly to the improvement in chemical production.

General cargo

Both incoming (+19%) and outgoing (+12%) trade in containers rose by double figures. Taken together, 84 million tonnes were handled, 15% more than in 2009 and close on 2 million tonnes more than in 2008. Measured in twenty-foot container units, the growth is even more pronounced: + 17% to 8.4 million TEU.

Roll-on / roll-off transport was 6% up to 13 million tonnes, thanks to the tentative recovery of the British economy. Due partly to the deployment of larger ferry ships, growth could even be slightly higher in the fourth quarter.

The handling of other general cargo is recovering further from the heavy blow dealt by the crisis. 5 million tonnes of steel, paper products, fruit, metals and project cargo were handled, resulting in an increase of 14%. Now that the Steinweg terminal on the Maasvlakte, for slabs among other things, has started operations the results for the sector will improve further.