Belgium: MSC to Expand Activities in Antwerp

MSC to Expand Activities in Antwerp

Shipping company MSC, the second-largest in the world, is aiming to further expand its activities in Antwerp. MSC has officially asked Antwerp Port Authority to be able to do this in the Deurganck dock. The Port of Antwerp will organise an invitation for expressions of interest.

The Swiss shipping company MSC, the second-largest in the world, aims to further expand its activities in Antwerp. MSC has officially asked Antwerp Port Authority to be able to do this in the Deurganck dock. At the moment MSC, the port of Antwerp’s largest container customer, already operates in the Delwaide dock where last year it handled a freight volume of around 4.6 million TEU. The Port Authority will therefore organise an invitation for expressions of interest, in an open and transparent way, in order to determine whether in addition to MSC there are other significant market opportunities of a similar nature. The Board of Directors gave the go-ahead this evening for such an invitation to be launched.

The port of Antwerp has managed to win market share in the fully containerised sector ever since the 1990s, and in doing so has developed into one of the leading European ports for the main world players. This was underscored once more in mid-October when the P3 alliance announced that it wished to opt clearly for the port of Antwerp as a European platform. P3 is an operational alliance of the three large shipping companies Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM. The intention is for it to be up and running by the second quarter of 2014, assuming approval is obtained from the competition authorities.

The choice of Antwerp as a European platform affords an opportunity for the port to further consolidate its position in the European container landscape. Antwerp’s sea access, its freight handling productivity, its inland location and its cargo-generating power are significant advantages which together ensure that a maximum amount of trade flows through Antwerp.

If the port of Antwerp is to offer an adequate response to these world players in the European competitive battle, it must also offer a future scenario with opportunities for further growth.

MSC for its part has developed its European hub in the Delwaide dock, but this location on the right bank of the Scheldt does not have any more room for growth. The Swiss company has therefore officially notified the Port Authority that it wishes to expand elsewhere in the port of Antwerp to accommodate its further growth in the Benelux region, the most important container region in Europe. This is a powerful signal by a major world player, along with CMA CGM and Maersk, that it specifically wishes to consolidate in the port of Antwerp.

Deurganck dock

Instead of the Delwaide dock MSC has opted for the Deurganck dock, where it aims to have the MSC and P3 freight handled in the existing PSA terminal, with a request to be allowed to expand the capacity. This has been prompted not only by the lack of capacity on the right bank but also by the fact that the company will start using ships of 16,000 and 18,000 TEU in the near future, and handling behind the Berendrecht lock is no longer compatible. Furthermore it is important to be able to concentrate the trade in a single terminal.

For the port of Antwerp this development in the fully containerised and deepsea containerised trade represents an exceptional opportunity, for various reasons. It will of course be necessary to examine how this can be best accommodated, but an opportunity that opens up dynamic new prospects for the Deurganck dock must be examined in the light of the practical benefit for the port as a whole.

Thus, before any possible reservation of space in the Deurganck dock, the Port Authority will organise an open, transparent invitation for expressions of interest from the market. Terminal operators will be approached for this on a wide scale. By inviting expressions of interest it will be possible to determine whether there are any other equally practical and important proposals on the market in the short term that might be incompatible with facilitating MSC and P3 trade in the Deurganck dock, or that might be made impossible by it.

Based on the results of the invitation, further discussions will be held with the stakeholders, according to the opportunities for accommodation.

The Port Authority will also examine the possibilities that might arise for using the Delwaide dock in future if MSC does indeed move, subject to a formal invitation for expressions of interest at a later time.

As was done in previous years with the former breakbulk quays, the Port Authority has demonstrated that management of port infrastructure is in a constant state of flux, with new opportunities always being sought. Thus successful new opportunities have been created in the field of e.g. tank storage.


Press Release, December 3, 2013