Port of Antwerp experiences strong half year

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JULY 18, 2015: The port of Antwerp handled 104,529,242 tonnes of freight in the first six months of this year, up 6.4 percent on the same period last year. The strong performance during the half year was mainly due to the impressive growth in container freight (up 9.5 percent in TEU and 7.4 percent in tonnage) and in liquid bulk (also up 7.4 percent). However, the conventional breakbulk volume lagged behind the overall growth.

The container volume expressed as the number of standard boxes handled (twenty-foot equivalent units) rose by 9.5 percent during the first six months, to 4,836,243 TEU. Expressed in tonnes it amounted to 57,501,825 tonnes (up 7.4 percent). The formation of an alliance between several container shipping companies has clearly acted in favour of Antwerp. This made itself felt in particular in trade to and from the Far East, resulting in a sharp growth in the container volume handled in the Deurganck dock (up 28.2 percent). It is expected that when the MSC shipping company moves its operations from the Delwaide dock to the Deurganck dock the growth in the latter will continue to be strong. Nevertheless the Port Authority underlines the importance of having the first phase of the new container handling capacity below the locks becoming operational by 2021. Lock passage and the capacity behind the locks are no longer viewed as appropriate by companies that operate the very largest container carriers, more and more of which are expected to enter service in the near future.

The ro/ro volume for its part was up by 3.9 percent to 2,436,890 tonnes, although the number of cars handled fell by 9.6 percent to 581,458. Conventional breakbulk on the other hand was down by 3.9 percent. At the end of the first six months the volume handled stood at 4,832,961 tonnes. The iron and steel volume rose slightly, up 1.3 percent to 3,336,782 tonnes. The decline in the breakbulk segment is due to the fall in the volume of fruit.

The liquid bulk volume rose during the past six months by 7.4 percent to 32,667,400 tonnes. Handling of oil derivatives did well, up 2.8 percent to 23,004,129 tonnes, but chemicals were the N° 1 grower, rising by 32 percent to 7,237,817 tonnes.

The number of seagoing ships calling at Antwerp during the first six months came to 7,075, up 1.2 percent on the same period last year. The gross tonnage for its part rose by 5.9 percent to 174,837,974 GT.

On 29 July the port is due to receive a visit by the MSC Zoe which with a capacity of 19,224 TEU is the second largest container carrier in the world. The arrival of such giant container ships underlines Antwerp’s excellent combination of good sea access, where the largest ships in the world can moor without problem and its location far inland with numerous barge and rail connections to the hinterland.

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