The Port of Antwerp has reported a strong start to the year after handling 48,166,806 tonnes of freight during the first three months of 2014, up 2.5 percent over the corresponding period last year.
Container volumes faired particularly well during the three-month period, rising 0.9 percent to 2,146,392 TEU, as did the Belgian port’s ro-ro traffic, which climbed 5.8 percent to 1,184,608 tonnes. The number of cars handled rose by 2.5 percent to 313,436.
However, conventional breakbulk was down by 9.1 percent during the first quarter, to 2,407,726 tonnes. Steel in particular suffered a significant contraction during the first two months of the year due to the weak steel market, although the volume picked up sharply again in March. The result for the quarter was a total of 1,560,753 tonnes, representing a fall of 5.5 percent. The drop in conventional volumes is a trend that is also being felt in neighbouring countries.
Antwerp’s liquid bulk volumes jumped 6.2 percent to 15,095,059 tonnes, while petroleum derivatives for their part totalled 11,046,650 tonnes by the end of March, an increase of 9.9 percent. Chemicals (2,732,488 tonnes) and crude oil (1,220,831 tonnes) on the other hand were down slightly, by 2.8 percent and 1.3% respectively.
Dry bulk volume finished the quarter at 3,474,842 tonnes, a decrease of 2.3 percent compared with the same period last year. As before, the amount of coal handled was largely responsible for this contraction. During the past three months the coal volume was down by 44 percent, to 299,991 tonnes. Ore (up 36.6 percent to 794,643 tonnes) and sand and gravel (up 39.6 percent to 331.459 tonnes) did significantly better than in the first three months of 2013.
During the first three months of the year, 3,443 seagoing ships called at the Port of Antwerp, down 4.0 percent when compared to the same period last year. Gross tonnage of these vessels though was up by 0.7 percent, to 80,405,925 GT, thus confirming the trend towards larger and more heavily laden ships calling at Antwerp.