Rotterdam’s container traffic dipped 1.1 percent in the first nine months from a year ago but total cargo volume at Europe’s largest port grew by 1.7 percent to 332.6 million metric tons on sharply higher imports of crude oil and oil products.
Container traffic fell to 8.9 million 20-foot-equivalent units in the nine months through September from 9 million TEUs in the year-earlier period with volume in the third quarter unchanged at just more than 3 million TEUs.
The port authority attributed the slowdown to a sharp fall in the number of empty containers handled in the first half of the year.
The global economic crisis also impacted Rotterdam’s box traffic, with a lacklustre peak shipping season dampening feeder transport. But that was offset by significant growth in short sea shipping to and from the Mediterranean.
The higher total throughput was driven mainly by a 6.3 percent increase in crude oil traffic to 75 million tons and a 13.3 percent rise in mineral oil products to 61 million tons.
Dry bulk cargo declined 11.3 percent to 58.2 million tons, with iron ore and scrap almost 16 percent lower at 24.8 million tons.
Roll-on, roll-off traffic grew almost 2 percent to 13.5 million tons, but general cargo slumped 23.6 percent to 4.7 million tons due mainly to the lower demand for steel and steel slabs and the loss of a contract to neighbouring Antwerp.
“Across the entire year, we still expect a small growth of approximately 1 percent,” said Hans Smits, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.
Rotterdam handled a record 11.9 million TEUs in 2011 and total throughput also hit an all time high of 434.6 million tons.
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