The Ports of the Netherlands

Although the Netherlands might be a small country, the maritime structure is excellent and offers some of Europe’s most important ports. As such the country is a key player in regards to the goods markets. In this edition of Maritime by Holland Magazine we take a look at some of the key ports, their main features and the developments that are taking place to ensure the leading position of the Netherlands.


Port of Amsterdam

“Our location is excellent, close to the sea including a good connection to Schiphol Airport. Next to that our hinterland connections are good”, states Janine van Oosten, head of the port of Amsterdam’s nautical division. Van Oosten along with 180 nautical colleagues ensure the fast, responsible and sustainable completion for the shipping industry in the port region, stretching from IJmuiden to Amsterdam. The prognosis for 2012 states that almost 8,000 seagoing vessels and around 41,000 inland shipping vessels will visit Port of Amsterdam. “We are the main port for fuel and cacao, but tourism is also important as we expect a record of more than a 150 sea cruises this year. The spring has brought the river cruises back to life, which are very popular with tourists.”

2012 will be an important year, as a decision will be made about creating an independent port and a government business. Also, the study for the new sea lock in IJmuiden will be decided on in 2012, creating a new gateway to the Amsterdam port region. The College of Mayor and alderpersons proposed the corporatisation of the Port of Amsterdam. Operating as a governmental limited liability company, the Port of Amsterdam would be able to enter into more partnerships in the commercial logistics sector and therefore improve its performance in the face of international competition.

The Port of Amsterdam is a municipal company and following corporatisation, it would move forward as a limited liability company, known as NV Haven Amsterdam. The new construction would enable the Port of Amsterdam to enter into regional, national or international collaborations more easily and could also become a more enterprising strategic partner. “We are awaiting the output of the study that is being done and hope to know more by the third quarter of 2012. It will be a considerable step for the port of Amsterdam and our customers”, comments Van Oosten. Furthermore, the ports of Amsterdam, Groningen, Rotterdam and Zeeland have founded a branch organisation for seaports, called BOZ, which will look after the joint interest of the Dutch Seaports, as the National Harbour Council was dissolved on 1 January of this year.

“There are many exciting projects happening, such as the shore-based radar system, also known as Vessel Traffic Services or VTS, and the arrival of two new patrol vessels, which will be built by Damen.” One element that is important for the Port of Amsterdam is that all its plans are based on sustainability and durability, as Van Oosten explains: “Our plans must take up as little of the environmental space as possible.”

Recently a trade mission was initiated between Samsara, a large shipping agent with 54 offices in India, and the Port of Amsterdam. Van Oosten: “Our goal is to play an important part in the cargo shipping from and to this country. India offers many interesting cargo opportunities regarding oil, chemicals, agricultural cargo and containers. Next to that the port of Mumbai encounters similar issues to us, such as depth, so there is also the possibility to learn from each other.” The trade mission will last around two years and can be prolonged when successful.

Port of Rotterdam

Perhaps most well-known for the Maasvlakte 2, the Port of Rotterdam is one of Europe’s main ports. It forms the gateway to over 350 million consumers and is one of the most important junctions of good flows in the world. The port’s success is linked to the good accessibility via the sea, the hinterland connections and furthermore thanks to the many companies who are active in the port region. This region is vast as the port spans over 40 kilometres, excluding the Maasvlakte. The strength of the Port of Rotterdam stems for a great deal from the connections to the hinterland.

From the port there are five transportation possibilities: road, rail, inland shipping, coastal shipping and pipelines. This means that great economic centres in Europe, such as Germany, Belgium, France and Great Britain can be reached in less than 24 hours. The connection to the rivers Rhine and Maas offer efficient transport by inland vessel to the very heart of Europe. Next to that, the new Betuwe Route, a 160 kilometre goods line, links Rotterdam directly to Germany. Busy roads can also be avoided by the use of short-sea ships and last but not least chemicals and oil can be transported through pipelines. Roads are still a necessity and the Rotterdam-Rijnmond area is working on plans to improve roads, especially with the Maasvlakte 2 in development. The Maasvlakte 2 will finish its first phase in 2013 and the port will expand until 2030.

Recently, the ports of Antwerp, Hamburg and Rotterdam expressed their views on further developing the European intermodal transport towards the European Parliament. They believe it is essential for the future European transport that rail and inland connections are developed further, most notably regarding areas where the largest freight volumes are concentrated. Furthermore, the port of Rotterdam showed promising figures in 2012 over the past year, with a 1% increase for the throughput in the port at 434.6 million tonnes.

Groningen Seaports

Groningen Seaports consists of two sea ports, the port of Delfzijl and the port of Eemshaven, and two inland ports, the port of Farmsumerhaven and the port of Oosterhornhaven. In the late 1960s the Dutch government appointed the Eems region as an economic spear point with at its head the development of a deep-sea port called the Port of Eemshaven. After a slightly quiet start the port developed quickly in the 1990s and is now a full-service port complex and logistical junction for navigational routes to and from North West Europe. The port of Delfzijl has a long maritime history and is a strong international industrial port. The inland ports stem from the stimulation of inland shipping in the Netherlands, culminating in the development of the Eems canal, which heavily improved the inland shipping traffic. The overall Groningen Seaports area spans around 2,600 hectare.

Groningen Seaports is steadily developing, infrastructure is continually improving and more companies are expanding the industrial and commercial area of the ports. Furthermore the Port of Delfzijl, in the area of Oosterhorn, will see the arrival of a wind farm with building scheduled for the second half of 2012. The wind farm will consist of 20 wind turbines. The Dutch port has also attracted the attention of a foreign counterpart. On 15 March Anniken Krutnus, ambassador for Norway, visited the Port of Eemshaven to evaluate and further improve the future relations from the Port of Eemshaven to Norway.

Port of Den Helder

In the peak of the north of Holland, the port of Den Helder offers an enormous variety of services to, mainly, the international shipping and offshore industry. For the offshore industry, Den Helder is a key player in the logistical chain in regards to the oil and gas industries. Over the years more and more oil companies have concentrated their logistical activities here, as oil-drilling and production platforms in the North Sea can be easily supplied from this location. Around 30 platforms have docked at Den Helder for inspection or repair work.

Thanks to the strategic location, many offshore companies are interested in moving to the Port of Den Helder. During the EWEA, European Wind Energy Association, trade fair in Copenhagen this April alderman of Den Helder Kees Visser ordered the elongation of the quay to Ballast Nedam, a company leading in building and infrastructure. This order will allow the offshore companies to settle in the port of which one thing is certain, diversity is key. Furthermore, the port has its own Port Collection Installation for collecting of harmful waste materials from ships and offshore installations.

Of old, the port of Den Helder is a well-known fishing port, now home to a very modern fleet. The fishermen from Den Helder and Texel, an island belonging to North-Holland, invested heavily in ensuring the port is up to the highest hygiene and quality standards. The privatised fish auction is, in fact, one of the most modern in Europe, where not only the Dutch, but the Belgian, Danish, Norwegian and British bring their fish to be sold. As mentioned earlier Texel has a close relationship with the port and city of Den Helder. The port of Den Helder is the only port to have a regular ferry service to and from the island, for which a special ferry port was built. In the future the port hopes to expand its ferry capacity to Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Furthermore the port is home to an ever increasing transshipment industry, it is an important element in resolving emergencies out on the North Sea and, last but not least, it is the home base of the Dutch Royal Navy.

Harlingen Seaport

A regional port with an international location, Harlingen Seaport in the north of the Netherlands is strategically placed close to Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic states. The port has easy access to the North Sea and thanks to the 7.5 metre deep channel through the Wadden Sea towards the port, access is granted to large container vessels. The diverse nature of the port also means a great variety of maritime functions. The port caters to transport, distribution, shipbuilding and fishing opportunities, amongst many others. Harlingen Seaport has no bridges or locks, meaning access can be guaranteed without postponement. Becoming a sustainable and ‘green’ port is high on the agenda and as such an agreement has been signed with a local supplier for Wadden power supply. This is a project once started by local farmers and which now, with the support of power company Greenchoice, who take care of the organisation and logistics, supplies power to the vessels, cranes and offices in the Harlingen Seaport.

Rebecca McFedries

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