Port of Antwerp invests in the future
MAY 13, 2015: With growth of 5.9 percent the port of Antwerp has got off to a strong start in 2015. In terms of container handling (in TEU) Antwerp even achieved growth of 9.5 percent in the first three months of this year. The 2M alliance of MSC and Maersk which last year opted resolutely for Antwerp is of course not unconnected with these growth figures. During the next few months preparations will be finalised for transferring the activities of the MSC shipping company – currently operating in the Delwaide dock on the right bank area of the port – to the Deurganck dock on the left bank of the Scheldt. This dock with its annual capacity of 11 million TEU will enable MSC to further develop its activities. However, according to the latest forecasts Antwerp will need to have new container handling capacity as of 2020-2021. The Port Authority is therefore already making preparations for a new, large tidal dock with matching terminal capacity on the left bank. The port of Antwerp has a development area of more than 1,000 hectares available on the left bank which is expected to enter operation in phases. The Port Authority plans for the first phase of the Saeftinghe dock to be operational as of 2021, with 1,400 m of quay and a minimum capacity of 5.1 million TEU. The costs for this first phase of the dock are estimated at 660 million euros. For Antwerp, the second-largest port in Europe, being able to accommodate the long-term growth of shipping companies is essential. "We operate in an international, competitive environment where maintaining a top position is a daily challenge, not something to be taken for granted," says Luc Arnouts, Chief Commercial Officer of the Port Authority. It is not yet clear when the second phase of the Saeftinghe dock, which ultimately will be more than 4 km long, will enter operation. "The Port Authority aims for controlled expansion of capacity," explains Arnouts. "This means in practice that we have to keep a very close watch on the market, and not simply throw more capacity onto the market if there is no demand for it. We were already prepared to offer the Saeftinghe Development Area on the market in 2008, but in view of the timing – right on the edge of the worldwide economic crisis – we put the project on hold."