North European Main Ports and UK Main Ports Round Up

21st February 2019

Container throughput at the port of Hamburg declined for the second consecutive year in 2018.

The port’s throughput was down to 8.73m teu, adding urgency to the completion of the long-awaited deepening and widening programme in the river Elbe. 

Although this represents a marginal 1% year-on-year fall in containers handled at Hamburg’s box terminals, it has to be read in context with the strong growth achieved at rival North European hubs Rotterdam and Antwerp.  And, overall, Hamburg’s container throughput has slumped by 10% since 2014 when its container facilities saw 9.7m teu pass over the quay walls. 

The Benelux ports increased their market share last year, mainly at the expense of Hamburg, with Antwerp recording 5.2% growth to 11.1m teu, and Rotterdam registering a 5.7% expansion to 14.5m teu.  Ingo Egloff, chief executive of Port of Hamburg Marketing, said: “Adjustment of the fairway will not just simplify calls in Hamburg for shipowners, but will also permit handling of larger volumes. Extra draught and an improved situation for passing on the Elbe will also facilitate better use of transport capacity on their ships.” 

The two-year project to dredge the lower and outer sections of the river Elbe to a tide-independent depth of 13.5 metres, and the construction of a 385-metre passing point for vessels, has become more essential to the future of Hamburg as a hub port, given that ships deployed by carriers have got even bigger.  It has been calculated that with the Elbe deepening, vessels calling at Hamburg could exchange an additional 1,800 teu per visit, although some of the latest ULCVs are known to have a maximum draught of up to 16 metres.  And with Germany narrowly avoiding sliding into recession, political pressure is growing to promote the port around the world and thereby boost the country’s economy. 

Hamburg is celebrating winning four transatlantic liner services from THE Alliance recently, which it said could add up to 500,000 teu to its throughput numbers. However, Rotterdam and Antwerp also benefited last year from the IT disruption at the UK port of Felixstowe when the UK’s biggest container gateway embarked on a troubled implementation of its in-house-developed NextGen terminal operating system in June. 

One local source told The Loadstar it had been “like a cyber-attack had hit the port”, adding that at one stage stowage plans were having to be drawn up with pen and paper. Consequently, many ships were obliged to ‘cut & run’ and carry UK imports to be discharged at Rotterdam and Antwerp.  The Hutchison-owned facility does not publish its throughput numbers for Felixstowe, but a local source told The Loadstar he expected the port’s circa 4m teu annual handling would have declined by around 500,000 teu last year, due to the disruption. 

THE Port of Rotterdam Authority saw 469 million tonnes of cargo pass through its gates in 2018, just beating the record set in 2017.

The container transhipment segment was described again as being an engine of growth, with a 4.5 per cent increase in tonnage, helping container throughput increase by 5.7 per cent year on year to an all-time high of 14.5 million TEU.

Container transhipment saw a further strong increase in 2018, as a result of which market share was gained in the Hamburg-Le Havre range. A key factor in the increase in 2018 was the growth in numbers of transhipment and full import containers.

Container exports developed less strongly, partly due to Chinese import restrictions on waste flows. The shortsea segment suffered from slowdowns in the British and Russian economies.

Significant underlying shifts were observable in the goods segments. While container transhipment continued to grow at a healthy pace, crude oil, mineral oil products and agribulk volumes declined. Throughput of liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose by 163.6 per cent and biomass was up 31.6 per cent.

Container flow through the Port of Le Havre reached a record 3 million TEU in 2018 despite an 8.4 per cent year-on-year decline in intermodal traffic, reports London's Container Management.
Strikes at the start of 2018 led to the decrease in rail traffic, but the performance of the Le Havre Multimodal Terminal improved as it grew to 155,000 TEU.  Full containers saw a net increase of three per cent and transhipments were stable due to an improvement at the end of the year.

The 2M alliance added Le Havre as a new port of call as part of the AE7 service, which HAROPA (Le Havre, Rouen, Paris) port authority "confirmed the alliance's confidence" in the port.

HAROPA hit the three million TEU mark for the second year running and maintained its position as fifth ranking North European ports with a market share of 6.5 per cent.


Source : The Loadstar / HKSG