Freight throughput in the Port of Rotterdam fell by 1.5% in the first quarter

In the first quarter of 2022, 1.5% less freight passed through the port of Rotterdam compared to the same period last year: 113.6 million tonnes compared to 115.2 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2021, according to company press release. In particular, the throughput of petroleum products and iron ore fell. Flows of LNG and other liquid and dry bulk (raw materials in particular) increased. Container volume was slightly below the 2021 level.

In the port of Rotterdam last year, 62 million tonnes out of nearly 470 million tonnes of throughput were destined for Russia (13%). Many energy carriers from Russia are imported through the port of Rotterdam. In 2021, about 30% of crude oil, 25% of LNG and 20% of petroleum products and coal came from Russia. Russia exports steel, copper, aluminum and nickel via Rotterdam. In 2021, 8% of container handling was destined for Russia. The impact of sanctions and decisions by individual companies to no longer do business with Russia has become noticeable in almost every sector.

In total, liquid bulk throughput decreased by 1.0% to 51.5 million tonnes. The volume of crude oil remained almost unchanged (-0.2% to 25.5 million tonnes). The throughput of petroleum products, particularly fuel oil, fell (-20.5% to 13.5 million tonnes), mainly due to lower production in Russia, which resulted in less fuel oil entering Rotterdam from Russia. Since March, oil companies have been importing less oil from Russia. In the first quarter, LNG throughput was significantly higher (+77.7% to 2.7 million tonnes). Flows of chemicals, vegetable oils and renewable products also increased sharply, leading to a sharp increase in the volume of other liquid bulk (+22.2% to 9.9 million tonnes).

In the dry bulk segment, iron ore and scrap fell (-19.5% to 5.6 million tonnes). High energy costs and falling demand for steel caused German steel production to plummet. The fall in demand is notably due to disruptions in supply chains, leading to lower production levels at steel processing companies. Coal flows increased slightly (+3.5% to 3.9 million tonnes), with the demand for energy coal (for power stations) increasing more strongly than the demand for cokes (for blast furnaces). For electricity generation, coal is currently cheaper than gas. For other dry bulks, there is a massive increase compared to last year (33.5% to 3.9 million tonnes). Despite the high prices, the demand for raw materials has exploded.

Lower transshipment volumes (-21.5% to 6.0 million tonnes) mainly led to lower throughput in the container segment (-5.4% to 35.6 million tonnes). In terms of TEU (the standard unit for containers), throughput fell less sharply (-1.4% to 3.6 million TEU), as the average container weight was lower and more empty containers were transported. Transshipment volumes have been gradually decreasing since July 2021, due to the huge activity at the offshore terminals due to the high number of disruptions in the supply chain. In addition, container shipping had to deal with several storms in January and February, which further disrupted shipping schedules.

In March, the impact of events in Ukraine resulted in lower volumes to Russia. Most shipping lines have introduced a booking stop for Russian containerized cargo, and most deep-sea terminals no longer accept any export cargo from Russia. This will further affect transshipment volumes to Russia. In the first quarter, the consequences of the COVID-related lockdowns in Shanghai were not yet noticeable in Rotterdam.

Total throughput in the breakbulk segment (Roll-on/Roll-off and other breakbulks) increased by 19% to 8.4 million tonnes. RoRo throughput (+20.4% to 6.7 million tonnes) increased compared to the first quarter of last year, as the Brexit transition period had just ended and due to strong demand from the Kingdom -United.

In the other general cargo segment, an increase (+13.7% to 1.7 million tonnes) results from a higher non-ferrous throughput and a shift from containerized freight to the transport of general cargo, caused by container shipping tariffs. Much of the Russian cargo currently remains in breakbulk terminals.