In 2015 for the first time in its history the port of Antwerp passed the 200 million tonne mark for the volume of freight handled, by a wide margin. On 31 December the figure stood at 208,423,920 tonnes of freight handled. That’s 4.7% more than the previous year, which ended with a volume of 199 million tonnes.
Another million-tonne record was broken in the container handling sector, with a volume of more than 9.6 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units, i.e. standard containers). In comparison with 2014, 7.5% more containers were handled.
With these growth figures Antwerp is performing significantly better than Rotterdam and Hamburg, the N° 1 and 3 respectively in North-West Europe. The port of Antwerp has seen its container volume growing strongly since the beginning of 2015, in particular from Asia.
Containers and breakbulk
The container segment has shown particularly brisk growth both in terms of tonnage and in terms of the number of boxes. In fact the number of containers handled in TEU expanded last year by a good 7.5%, finishing at 9,653,511 TEU. In tonnage the growth was 4.6%, resulting in 113,294,675 tonnes at the end of 12 months.
The ro/ro volume for its part rose last year by 4.1% to 4,653,351 tonnes, while conventional breakbulk remained at around the same level, up just 1.2% to 10,007,679 tonnes.
The liquid bulk volume also finished 2015 the year with good growth figures, up 6.1% to 66,668,371 tonnes. The volume of oil derivatives rose by 4.0% to 47,904,167 tonnes. Chemicals experienced particularly strong growth, jumping by 18.2% to 13,442,950 tonnes. Finally the crude oil volume was down slightly last year, ending 2015 with 4,814,047 tonnes (down 3.4%).
During the past year not only did work go ahead on investments that had already been planned by among others Total (Optara), ExxonMobil (Antwerup EPC2) and Evonik (expansion of the butadiene and MTBE plants), but also new investments were announced. Invoyn is planning a major investment in a large-scale potassium hydroxide plant that is due to enter production in 2017, while the Japanese company Nippon Shokubai began work several months ago on an investment that will give its Antwerp plant more capacity for production of super-absorbent polymers and acetic acid by 2018. Together, all these investments are significantly reinforcing Antwerp’s position as the largest integrated petrochemical cluster in Europe.
Dry bulk experienced further growth of 2.2% during the past year, resulting in a volume of 13,799,844 tonnes. The amount of coal handled showed positive figures once more, up 11.8% to 1,585,083 tonnes. More sand and gravel was also handled in 2015, with the volume rising by 14.9% to 1,554,290 tonnes.
During the past 12 months a total of 14,417 seagoing ships called at the port of Antwerp, 2.9% more than the previous year. The overall gross tonnage also grew considerably in 2015, up 9.7% to 367,709,003 GT.
Freight handling jobs
The Antwerp dockers carried out 3.2% more freight handling jobs in 2015 in comparison with the previous year. Also there was 22.7% less unemployment among them.