Slight growth despite ongoing challenges

Posted on October 18, 2022 at 10:26 a.m. by

The Maritime Executive

[By: Port of Antwerp-Bruges]

After nine months, the total throughput of the port of Antwerp-Bruges was 217.4 million tonnes, a slight increase of 0.8% compared to the same period last year. Despite the negative impact of the geopolitical and macroeconomic context, all freight flows recorded growth, with the exception of the container segment, which remains under pressure. Combined with a series of announcements of new investments in the port platforms of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, this confirms the attractiveness and resilience of the unified port.

After 9 months, container throughput is down 8.8% in tonnes and 5% in TEU compared to the same period last year. This decline is the result of the continued disruption to container logistics and the effects of the conflict in Ukraine. Containers are still not turning enough due to congestion, resulting in a drop in throughput of full containers, while that of empty containers increases. Although operational challenges are slowly easing, container shipping, still heavily disrupted, is not expected to return to normal until the first quarter of 2023.

The conventional breakbulk grew by 9.7%. While steel outflows are holding up well, steel supply volumes are trending lower due to high inventories and falling demand. Despite a downward trend in the flow of wood and building materials, these product groups, such as fruit, continue to show growth.

Roll-on/roll-off traffic increased by 8.1%. New car throughput increased by 8.5%, mainly due to strong arrivals from China. In contrast, the number of used vehicles and trucks is down 7.3% and 17%, respectively. Unaccompanied freight (excluding containers) increased by 13%.

The growth of the dry bulk segment (+21.5%) is mainly driven by the growth of coal transport. The increased demand for coal for power generation resulted in a throughput of 2.43 million tonnes compared to 364,000 tonnes in the same period last year. Iron ore throughput shows growth, while scrap metal, sand and gravel show a decline and other building materials remain unchanged. Although fertilizer inputs and outputs have increased compared to the second quarter, there is still a decline compared to the record year of 2021 (-11.8%).

The liquid bulk segment recorded an increase of 13.3%. LNG in particular is growing strongly (+66.5%). So far this year, 215 LNG carriers have called at Zeebrugge compared to 121 during the same period last year. Growth was also noted for LPG (+30%), due to high natural gas prices, and for gasoline (+12.2%), diesel/fuel oil (+9.7%) and naphtha (+14.6%). Chemical throughput also continued to grow by 6.3%, but a sharp decrease is particularly noticeable in throughput due to reduced production due to rising energy costs.

After nine months, Zeebrugge welcomed 102 cruise ships with 325,406 passenger movements, up from last year when cruise shipping was largely at a standstill due to Covid-19.

The unified port attracts investment
Since the official launch of the merged port Port of Antwerp-Bruges six months ago, several investors and new projects have already found their way to the port hubs of Antwerp and Zeebrugge. Conti Seafrigo Antwerp, for example, will build a new frozen goods warehouse, Antwerp Euroterminal (AET) will commission Belgium’s largest single car park and Fluxys will build an ammonia terminal in partnership with Advario. Meanwhile, Covestro has started construction of an aniline plant, ITC Rubis is expanding with an additional storage pit and Lanxess is installing a new climate protection system. Ineos has also chosen to set up a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) pilot from Antwerp. In Zeebrugge, Ziegler Group is opening a subsidiary for unaccompanied ro-ro freight to Ireland and the United Kingdom, and the real estate group Intervest officially inaugurated this week the logistics complex acquired in April from the Chinese developer Lingang.

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