Strong growth forecast

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Germany’s “gateway to the world”, Port of Hamburg facilitates significant trade and commerce with the rest of the world and the year so far has been positive with record performance in handling seaborne cargo.

Reji John...

The Port of Hamburg continues record performance handling a total of 72.6 million tonnes in the first six months of 2014. This is an increase of 6.6 percent to the same period in the previous year. Hamburg’s universal port with 50.7 million tonnes of predominantly container handling achieves a result of 4.8 million TEUs, an increase of 6.8 percent. The largest seaport on the north European continent show an average growth in total handling of 1.8 percent and in container handling of 2.6 percent. The Port of Hamburg can look back on above average growth in container traffic, building up its market share from 25.7 to 26.7 percent. At 51.6 million tonnes in the first half year general cargo handling showed a gain of 8.8 percent. “We can see extraordinarily strong growth in loaded container handling: 4.2 million full boxes went over the quay walls in Hamburg. That is 8.2 percent more than in the previous year and more than ever before in the port’s history in a first half-year,” explained Axel Mattern, member of the Executive Board of Port of Hamburg Marketing. The first six months were also marked by a volume increase in seaborne cargo of an unforeseeable amount, brought about by the continued growth in size of containerships. In the first half year of 2014 Hamburg received 244 ultra large containerships with slot capacities of 10,000 TEU and more. The number of ships in this large size class calling increased in a similar period of time by 27.1 percent and clearly shows that the river channel adjustment in the lower and outer Elbe must be urgently realized for the Port and shipping industry. “In 2014 we can reach a plus of four percent in sea cargo handling and in container handling a five percent increase, if everything goes according to plan,” forecasts Axel Mattern. This is on condition of further growth in container traffic with China and no increasing limitations on foreign trade with Russia because of sanctions. The result for the Port of Hamburg for the year 2014 a total turnover of approximately 145 million tons and a container throughput of about 9.7 million TEU would be possible. This would top the previous record achieved in 2008 of 140 million tons of sea cargo. One of the infrastructural developments that the Port of Hamburg eagerly waiting to implement was the dredging of the lower and outer stretches of the river Elbe. However, this development has further been delayed because of the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig recently adjourned the proceedings by the BUND and NABU environmental associations against the plan approval until the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg has reached a decision regarding a pending referral of the interpretive ruling on the Water Framework Directive. The seventh division of the Federal Administrative Court, which is responsible for waterways law, last summer ruled against the expansion of the river Weser under the Water Framework Directive after objections from environmental associations. With its decision of 11 July 2013, the Federal Administrative Court presented the ECJ with a range of questions concerning the Water Framework Directive’s so-called prevention of deterioration and requirement for improvement. Following the five-day hearing in July 2014, when the German Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute’s expert opinion on the plan’s effects on tide levels, flow and sedimentation rates, traffic requirements and the review of alternatives, as well as the extent to which protected animal and plant species may be affected had been debated, the 7th division also deliberated on the other points of conflict. According to its preliminary assessment, the plan approval is, indeed, burdened by various shortcomings as regards its environmental impact and habitats directive assessment. These shortcomings can be addressed, however, and will not lead to the revocation of plan approval, either individually or as a whole. According to statements by Port of Hamburg Marketing Executive Board Members Axel Mattern and Ingo Egloff on the court decision, the port respect the decision announced today by the Federal Administrative Court (FAC) in Leipzig on the deepening and widening of the navigation channel on the Lower and Outer Elbe. A final decision can only be taken when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has clarified questions still outstanding on the so-called prohibition of deterioration and desirability of improvement embodied in the European Water Framework Directive. These questions will be resolved by spring 2015 in connection with complaints against a deepening of the River Weser. “We regret that once again time will be lost and that no decisive relaxation of the restrictions of ship draft and breadth currently in force can yet be implemented. More than ten years of planning and authorization procedures have been a difficult time for the port’s customers, shipping companies and firms operating in the port. The primary objective remains the rapid and carefully implementation of expansion measures. With seaborne cargo throughput of more than 140 million tons and annual container handling of over 9,000,000 TEU, Hamburg is the Northern European hub optimally located for handling worldwide cargo flows and transport chains in seaborne foreign trade. Against the background of an increasing number of calls by mega-ships, access from the sea via the Elbe is of vital importance for the Port of Hamburg and the companies based there and in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. More than 150,000 jobs are linked with the port. Distinctly improved accessibility is also urgently needed for all those industrial and trading concerns engaged in worldwide foreign trade that use Germany’s largest universal port for their exports and imports,” said the statement by Mattern and Egloff. Hamburg has invested in an environmentally friendly alternative for supplying power to cruise ships lying at port. The LNG Hybrid Barge, Becker Marine Systems’ floating liquefied gas power plant christened at Hafencity, is a world premiere. “The LNG Hybrid Barge will contribute towards making the air in Hamburg significantly cleaner,” said Dirk Lehmann and Henning Kuhlmann, both managing directors of Becker Marine Systems, who developed and will be operating the barge. This fuel lowers emissions and particulates, compared to marine diesel fuel. Sulphur oxides and soot particles are no longer emitted and the emission of nitrogen oxides will be lowered by up to 80% and carbon dioxide by an additional 30 percent. 

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