Traffic growth in ports driven by container sector

© Hollandse Hoogte / David Rozing
In 2017, the total volume of transhipments at Dutch seaports increased by over 1 percent to 595 million tonnes. Last year’s growth in maritime traffic was driven by the container sector. Throughput of liquid bulk (e.g. crude oil and petroleum products) decreased by 3 percent. Throughput of dry bulk (coal, iron ore) remained more or less stable. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on new figures.

Transhipments at Dutch seaports
 Dry bulk (million tonnes)Liquid bulk (million tonnes)Container (million tonnes)Overig (million tonnes)

In the period 2011-2016, container handling grew slightly, by 1 percent. Last year, incoming and outgoing container shipments increased substantially by 13 percent; nearly 38 percent of all unloaded containers were in transit to other seaports, the so-called transhipment activity. In 2015, the share of transhipment containers fell below one-third of all incoming containers versus 30 percent growth last year. Over 70 percent of total container transport growth was on account of transhipments. Rotterdam is an attractive port for this type of throughput, mainly due to its good accessibility for large container ships and the available terminal capacity. One in five transhipment containers carry wood and paper. The Port of Rotterdam handles containers carrying wood from Finland, Russia and Sweden, which is transhipped to China.

Goods supplied in containers
 Imports/transit shipments (million tonnes)Transhipment (million tonnes)

Significantly less fuel oil to Asia

Unlike in container cargo, the volume of liquid bulk cargo showed a decrease: by over 3 percent to nearly 273 million tonnes. This is slightly less than half all cargo which is loaded and unloaded in the Netherlands. The decrease is largely due to the stagnating volume of petroleum product transhipments (-17 percent) and exports of fuel oil in particular in the Port of Rotterdam. A large part of these goods comes from Russia and is shipped to Asia via Rotterdam. Tankers offer cheap services, which makes it less interesting to store oil in Rotterdam, before transporting it to Asia by supertanker.

Liquid bulk transhipments
 2017 (million tonnes)2016 (million tonnes)
Crude oil99.2100
Petroleum products53.558.2
Other liquid bulk33.630.5
Crude oil0.10.5
Petroleum products30.642.5
Other liquid bulk22.210.7

Crude oil throughput remained virtually unchanged. The outgoing shipping weight is negligible. Almost half of the crude oil received by the Port of Rotterdam is transported via pipelines to Belgium (64 percent) and Germany (36 percent). The remaining liquid bulk goods comprise mainly chemicals. Transhipment of this type of goods increased by over 55 percent.

More ores shipped from Brazil and South Africa

In 2017, transhipment of dry bulk cargo remained virtually unchanged (-0.2 percent) relative to one year previously. The supply of ores had a positive effect on the development. The supply increased by 9.4 percent(+3.5 million), which is largely attributable to the rise in ores imported from Brazil and South Africa. Total throughput of ores amounted to 41 million tonnes in 2017.

Dry bulk transhipments
 Ores (million tonnes)Coal (million tonnes)Agricultural products (million tonnes)Other dry bulk (million tonnes)

Coal throughput declined by 5.5 percent in 2017. This occurred mainly in the Port of Rotterdam, where coal throughput declined by nearly 10 percent to over 25 million tonnes, due above all to the closure of two coal-fired power stations in the Netherlands and even six in Germany. For more information on coal, see the article that was published today.