Antwerp experienced slight growth of 2% in the first two quarters compared with the same period last year.
Liquid bulk in particular performed exceptionally well.
Despite the difficult economic situation, the port of Antwerp handled a freight volume of nearly 95.7 million tonnes in the first six months of 2013, 2% more than in the same period last year.
Liquid bulk in particular experienced strong growth.
The liquid bulk volume rose by 33.1% to 29.2 million tonnes in the first half of the year, with crude oil and oil derivatives in particular driving the figures up.
The new Sea Tank Terminal 510 and the Independent Belgian Refinery were largely responsible for this development, having been started up again after Gunvor acquired the facilities and invested heavily in them. However, most of the other oil product terminals also experienced significant growth.
Indeed the oil and chemical sector in Antwerp has benefited from a steady stream of investments over the past few years. In the tank storage sector there have been significant investments in facilities for oil products, chemicals and gases by among others Oiltanking Stolthaven Antwerpen, Sea Tank Terminal, ATPC, LBC, Vopak, ADPO, NoordNatie Odfjell Terminal and ITC Rubis Terminal Antwerpen. As a result the number of tank storage terminals has risen to 15, the storage capacity has more than doubled to 6.3 million m³ and the maritime shipping traffic for the tank storage companies has grown by 151%.
The production companies too have been investing steadily in their Antwerp facilities. Investments are currently in progress at Gunvor, Lanxess, BASF, Ineos Oxide, FRX Polymers and Evonik Degussa, while projects have been announced by Total, Ferro, Kuwait Petroleum International, Praxair and Air Liquide.
Meanwhile yet more investment projects are in the study stage at ExxonMobil. As a result of all these investments, the port of Antwerp will further consolidate its position as the largest integrated petrochemical cluster in Europe.
On the other hand some product categories did suffer an impact from the economic situation.
The dry bulk volume fell by 31.6% to 7.2 million tonnes, largely due to stocks being run down in North-West European ports. It is expected that import volumes will recover once more in the next few months.
The container volume for its part shrank slightly in the past quarter. In terms of the number of containers it was down by 1.7% to 4.3 million TEU. In terms of tonnage it was down by 3.7% to 51.5 million tonnes. Antwerp retains its position as the second-largest container port in the Le Havre – Hamburg range, after Rotterdam but before Hamburg.
In the conventional breakbulk sector the volume handled came to 5.4 million tonnes, down by just 0.4%. The ro/ro tonnage for its part was down by 3.8% to 2.3 million tonnes. The number of cars handled increased by 5.6% to 652,038.
In the meantime the port is working hard to secure its future. The recent approval given to the Regional Land Use Plan means that investors are now assured of a further 1,000 hectares to develop as port sites. This will enable the port of Antwerp to continue playing its role as the engine of the Flemish and Belgian economy.
According to calculations by the National Bank of Belgium the port generated 9.66 billion euros of direct added value in 2011, plus another 9.24 billion euros indirectly. This means the port is directly responsible for 2.6% of Belgian GDP, or 5.1% in total.
The port of Antwerp provides work for 60,010 people directly.
When indirect employment is included the figure rises to 142,972 jobs.
Press Release, August 8, 2013