The largest vessels calling at the port tend to be bulk carriers
conveying shipments of coal. These can be anything up to 240
metres in length, although size tends to be a function of draught:
Delfzijl having a water depth of 9m and Eemshaven a draught of
11m. Indeed, it is the latter facility that mostly handles dry bulk,
which accounts for around 69% of the overall traffic, where
vessels can dock at the 1,100-metre dedicated dry bulk quay at
the northern end of Julianahaven.
Interestingly, the port authority is able to exploit is good
inland waterway connections, with around 4,000 vessels a year
serving the port via connecting canals and rivers.
Rotterdam, one of the giants of the European dry bulk scene,
handled 43.7mt in the first six months. Nevertheless, this was
down 4.9% compared with the first six months of last year.
Martin Ouwerkerk, the port authority’s Business Manager for
Dry Bulk & Energy explains that this throughput was particularly
influenced by a weak first quarter in respect of both iron ore
and scrap, although the second quarter had been broadly similar
to the corresponding 2014 quarter.
“Despite two new electricity generating plants having opened
in the port of Rotterdam, also coal throughput in the first half
year of 2015 was a bit less compared to the first half year of
2014. This, in part, is among other factors due to the closure
and maintenance of coal-fired power plants in Germany. These,
additionally, now have to compete more and more with solar
and wind power on the one hand, and still compete with lignite
on the other,” he explained.
Agribulk also posted a significant reduction in volume
compared to the first half of last year, while other bulk cargo,
consisting mainly of industrial minerals and construction
materials, remained stable.
“We expect to end the year having handled around 90mt of
dry bulk,” said Ouwerkerk.
He pointed out that the port of Rotterdam offers all the
facilities necessary for the transshipment, storage, processing and
distribution of any dry bulk commodity, be it in large or small
quantities. Products are handled at several terminals or directly
between vessels at buoys and dolphins.
“The port offers large-scale storage capacity — both open
and covered — as well as value-added services, such as screening, crushing, blending or packing. Even so, both the
terminal companies and the port authority are always looking
for opportunities to modernize infrastructure, equipment, and/or
storage capacity,” he said, emphasizing that, currently, investments
are being made in buoys and dolphins, with new dolphins having
been deployed in the Maasvlakte 2 area.
In addition, several buoys and dolphins are being updated or
At the same time, several terminals — for example EECV,
EBS, BSRvanUden Stevedoring, and Marcor — either recently
invested in additional storage capacity or have plans to do so.
Rotterdam, serving several industrial areas, mostly imports
commodities, with less than 10% of dry bulk traffic exported. A
whole raft of products pass through port installations, although
the main commodities are iron ore and coal, followed by
industrial minerals & construction materials, agribulk, scrap and
As for the types of vessels used to move dry bulk,
Rotterdam’s water depth of up to 23.65 metres means that even
the largest vessels can be accommodated under the right
conditions. In fact, dry bulk is transported in various types of
ships, including VLOCs, Handysize vessels or coasters, and also
on multipurpose vessels, and everything else in between.
“The choice of vessel size depends on various aspects: the
type of commodity (hence its per-tonne value), the port of
origin (and its conditions, such as maximum water depth),
charter rates, and so on. So both draught and market conditions
play a part,” said Ouwerkerk.
In general, policy at Rotterdam is to promote the usage of
rail or barge to transport cargo to the hinterland. The majority
of dry bulk which is transported to the hinterland is already
moved either by barge (approximately 80%) or rail (17%). This is
part of the port authority’s overall environmental remit, with the
Port of Rotterdam Authority co-operating closely with DCMR,
the environmental protection agency of local and regional
authorities in the Rijnmond region. This institution covers all
aspects of the environmental monitoring of the port and also
takes action in the case of nuisance complaints and incidents.
“The Port of Rotterdam Authority is in close contact with
companies that operate in the port, too, challenging them to develop their business as sustainable as possible,” said
At the Port of Hamburg at the northern most point of the
range, dry bulk handling continues to form an important
component of the total traffic mix. Around 43mt of dry bulk,
including both suction and grab cargo, as well as additional liquid
bulk, are handled there on an annual basis.
For the first six months of this year, the port reported a total
of 23.6mt of dry bulk, up 12.3% on the previous year.
Coal and ore imports posted the most dramatic rise, of
around 19%, with traffic totalling 11.5mt, which meant grab
handled commodities were powering growth in this sector. Coal
imports reached 3.8mt, equivalent to growth of 46.3%.
Even commodities moved by pneumatic equipment showed
increases. Overall, there were 5.3mt of
these in the half year,
an increase of 22.4%
compared to the first
six months of 2014.
remains one of
Europe’s top hubs for
handled by pneumatic
equipment, with silo
totalling more than
1mt. Vessels can
berth directly in front
of the large silos,
loading and discharge