ship in port

Small plus for Port of Rotterdam’s throughput in 2019

The Port of Rotterdam saw a freight throughput of 469.4 million tonnes in 2019, fractionally higher than in 2018 (469 million tonnes). This was announced by the Rotterdam Port Authority.

Crude oil, container, LNG and biomass throughputs increased, but coal and mineral oil product throughputs decreased.

Energy transition and digitalisation

‘The Port of Rotterdam has matched the transhipment volume recorded in 2018,’ says Allard Castelein, the Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO. ‘However, the success of a modern port cannot be measured by throughput tonnage alone. Our customers no longer just want increased throughput capacity, but demand a better, faster and, above all, smarter port. Equally crucial for the future is that industry succeeds in accelerating the energy transition.’

Over the past year, the port has invested in digitisation and the energy transition, in particular through the launch of PortXchange, the proposed expansion of the heat supply network, and the agreement between the Port Authority and various companies to work towards the capture, transport and storage of CO2 (Porthos project).

Liquid bulk

Total throughput of liquid bulk in 2019 (211.2 million tonnes) was almost the same as in 2018 (211.8 million tonnes). Within this segment, crude oil throughput exceeded 100 million tonnes for the fifth consecutive year and increased by 3.9 per cent. Investments in recent years have expanded the production capacity of refineries either located in Rotterdam or connected to Rotterdam, leading to an increase in the amount of crude oil refined in 2019. Crude oil stocks have also grown in recent months.

The throughput of mineral oil products fell as a result of lower imports and exports of fuel oil. This downward trend over the past few years intensified in 2019 as a result of tightened global emission regulations for shipping that came into effect on 1 January 2020.

The increase in LGN throughput was mainly due to the import of a greater proportion of the gas produced around the Atlantic ocean into Europe, instead of being exported to Asia. The increase in other liquid bulk is accounted for by the import and export of biofuels, particularly biodiesel.

Dry bulk

Dry bulk throughput decreased by four per cent to 74.5 million tonnes (2018: 77.6 million tonnes). The fall in coal throughput was considerable (-14.8 per cent). The share of coal in Dutch and German power generation has decreased significantly as both countries are generating more power from solar, wind and gas. Throughput of coking coal also came under pressure as a consequence of declining steel production in Germany. The annual iron ore and scrap throughput remained almost the same as in 2018.

Containers

Following a good start in the first six months of 2019, growth in container transhipment was almost negligible during the second six months of the year. Container throughput measured in tonnes grew by 2.5 per cent. Measured in TEUs, the increase was 2.1 per cent and the annual total was 14.8 million TEUs.

Economic growth in the EU declined somewhat, particularly as a consequence of reduced industrial production in Germany. Moreover, as a consequence of declining production and decreased growth in world trade, shipments from Asia were cancelled in November and December. The shortsea segment also experienced the effects of lower economic growth as well as competition with other ports.

Roll on/roll off and other breakbulk

RoRo transhipment increased slightly in 2019 (+0.8 per cent) despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit. There were, however, significant fluctuations throughout the year, with throughput peaks as a result of stock build-up in the run-up to the proposed Brexit dates of 31 March and 31 October.

Annual throughput of other breakbulk increased by 2.9 per cent as a result of an increase in extra cargo packages. Nevertheless, a decline in throughput was observable in the fourth quarter as a consequence of flagging German exports.

Financial results

The Port of Rotterdam Authority recorded a turnover of 706.6 million euros in 2019 (2018: 707.2 million euros). The net result excluding taxes amounted to 241 million euros (2018: 254.1 million euros).

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.