Oil Lifts Port of Rotterdam

Cargo volumes at the port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, increased by 5.4% in the first nine months of 2015, driven by a surge in the handling of crude oil and oil products, with the containerized cargo volume remaining flat.

The handling of oil products at the port increased by 22.1%. The throughput of liquefied natural gas (LNG) almost doubled. As gas prices in Asia have dropped significantly and are now comparable to those in Europe, the supply there is increasing. In absolute terms, the handling volume of LNG is still limited. Other liquid bulk decreased by 1.2%. In total, 12.5% more liquid bulk was handled.

The containerized cargo volume increased by 1% in the first nine months of 2015. In tonnes, the handled volume was virtually the same, up only 0.2%. The port attributes the lull to lower Chinese exports, slowing of the growth of emerging economies such as Brazil, and the deterioration of the Russian economy which reduces the throughput of containers to this region.

Moreover, the new terminals on Maasvlakte 2 are not yet operating at sufficient speed to handle large volumes. The container terminals on Maasvlakte 1 have a high occupancy rate. This is currently limiting the growth.

A strong U.K. economy combined with strikes by ferry companies in Calais and problems with the Channel Tunnel is the reason that roll on/roll off traffic across the North Sea has increased by 11.4%. Other break bulk decreased by 7.6%. Combined, breakbulk increased by a total of 6.9%.

The port handled 3.7% less dry bulk in the first nine months of 2015 compared to the same period a year earlier.

“The growth is almost entirely due to the increase in the handling of crude oil and oil products,” Allard Castelein, CEO Port of Rotterdam Authority, said.

”Most other types of goods were handled in similar quantities as last year. Since oil represents about half of the throughput, the port achieved a good growth rate. Dry bulk is usually a fairly stable industry, but currently the handling of iron ore and agri bulk is lagging behind somewhat. In the container sector, growth opportunities are currently still limited because the new terminals are not yet operating at full speed.”