Port of Rotterdam aims to bounce back from slightly disappointing 2015

The year 2015 was a bit disappointing for dry bulk throughput in the Port of Rotterdam (PoR) in the Netherlands. With an estimated 87.8mt (million tonnes), throughput declined by 1% compared with 2014.

With the exception of coal, all dry bulk commodities handled in the port were below 2014 results.

Rotterdam is the largest dry bulk port in Europe, and has a strong position especially in iron ore and coal. 



  • oversupply of iron ore, ore price <$50. Beneficial to steel industry in north west Europe, which is completely dependent on imports;
  • but only modest growth in EU steel consumption, and competition from Chinese steel exports (dumping);
  • and still, overcapacity in EU steel industry (70% occupancy rate); and
  • positive is the investment by ThyssenKruppSteel in retrofitting of the blast furnaces in Duisburg.  





  • despite the pressure on coal (COP 21 Paris, public opinion, financial institutions divesting coal assets etc.) coal imports in NL and Germany have increased;
  • coal market is oversupplied, resulting in very low prices and making coal competitive with gas;
  • two new coal-fired power plants (E.ON and Engie) started operations at the Maasvlakte in Rotterdam; and
  • although hard coal is squeezed between sustainable energy and lignite in Germany, coal imports still increased, because domestic coal mining and sales declined.  






  • the EECV terminal (dedicated iron ore and coal terminal of ThyssenKrupp) has approval from its owner to invest in modernizing and upgrading of the ore terminal. A possible lengthening of the iron ore quay wall has not yet been decided. A longer quay would make it possible to accommodate Valemax vessels;
  • at the EMO terminal work is continuing on automation of the terminal. EMO already has fully automated it’s stacker- reclaimers and coal wagon loaders, as well as all the conveyor belts and the associated routes. Now EMO is working on the automation of the unloaders for sea-going vessels, and the first crane will be operational in early 2016;
  • also at the EMO terminal, a biomass torrefaction plant is being built by River Based Energy. This demo plant will produce bio-coal. The project also involves the development of a prototype large scale biomass logistics hub using existing coal assets of EMO;
  • EBS completed the new ‘south jetty’ at Europoort Terminal in December 2014. This is the second berth which will be suitable for Panamax and post Panamax vessels. The new berth has dolphins for a floating crane.
  • These are situated at the north part of the existing jetty which was completed and operational at the beginning of 2014.
  • During 2015 EBS also invested in a hopper with weighing functionality and a conveyor belt system on the new jetty;
  • BSR Van Uden on the north bank, has invested in a second floating crane, which will be operational during next year (2016).  




  • an ongoing project is the deepening of the waterway and port basins in the Botlek area of the port. This will improve the nautical accessibility of the terminals and industrial sites in this part of the port for large Panamax vessels.
  • in the Caland Canal and the Botlek, the Port of Rotterdam Authority has worked hard on the expansion and replacement of buoy berths and dolphin configurations. And at the Maasvlakte 2 new dolphins (no. 90 and 91) were positioned. In the first half of 2015, transhipment (of dry and liquid bulk) at buoys and dolphins rose by 21% from 8.3mt (million tonnes) to 10.1mt compared to the same period of 2014.The increase was related mainly to the transhipment of fuel oil. The positioning of dolphin configurations and the replacement of buoy berths with dolphins is in line with the Port Authority policy to further modernize the existing port area and to use it as intensively as possible. Larger vessels can moor at the dolphins. The replacement of buoys with dolphins is also an improvement in terms of safety. The Port Authority is investing a total of around 32 million in this project.  


Zeeland Seaports: driven by dedication 

Zeeland Seaports — the ports of Vlissingen (Flushing) and Terneuzen in the Netherlands — offers many advantages when it comes to handling various types of cargo: its location on the open sea; a draught of 16.5 metres; the congestion-free hinterland connections; and its specialized terminals. However, it is the people who really make Zeeland Seaports unique. Everyone who does business with the Zeeland Seaports becomes acquainted with professionals who take pride in their work and their ports. This pride is what fuels motivation — and this is important to the customers, and it is that extra step that makes all the difference.

Zeeland Seaports offers excellent access from the Northsea. Also it has congestion-free links to the hinterland by rail, road, inland waterway, shortsea shipping and pipeline.

The port company of Zeeland

Seaports is responsible for the economic development, management, running and promotion of this port area. About 80 people work at Zeeland Seaports on:

  • attracting new businesses and allocating land;
  • the construction, management and maintenance of all infrastructure; and
  • ensuring safety in general, and safe shipping traffic in particular.


Zeeland Seaports is responsible for the sustainable development of logistics and industry in the Zeeland seaports in a dedicated and respectful manner. The company’s core values are reliability, focus on results, co-operation, respect and dedication.

Zeeland Seaports handles a wide variety of cargoes, including: dry bulk, breakbulk, ro/ro cargoes, liquid bulk, and containerized cargoes. It is also very active in the offshore and food sectors.


Zeeland Seaports offers an excellent service in the handling of dry bulk commodities. This includes spacious: docks with direct access to the open sea; stevedores and storage companies specializing in specific cargo flows such as coal, raw minerals and

fertilizers; and rapid transport connections with the hinterland by rail, motorway and inland shipping.

New boosts

Work is also constantly under way, with the aim of optimizing accessibility and infrastructure.

The opening of the Kaloothaven means that dry bulk carriers with a draught of up to 16.5 metres can access Vlissingen. A new loading station is a real boost for the rail connection to the German hinterland. The arrival of the Sluiskil Tunnel will speed up road traffic heading south.



The storage of dry bulk generally requires a lot of space.
Zeeland Seaports has this space. It also has the capability to guide the growth or establishment of production and stevedoring companies along short lines. All of this makes dry 
bulk and Zeeland Seaports a trusted combination with a future.

Terminals dedicated to dry bulk


  • Ovet B.V.;
  • Verbrugge Terminals B.V.; and 
  • Sagro.



Breakbulk plays a key role in commercial activity within the Zeeland ports. Zeeland Seaports offers the flexibility to process a wide range of breakbulk cargo quickly, efficiently and at optimum costs. This is due not only to unhindered access from the sea and a trimodal connection to the hinterland, but definitely also due to the presence of specialist logistics service providers.

Zeeland Seaports offers the flexibility to process a wide range of breakbulk cargo quickly, efficiently and at optimum costs. This is not only thanks to unhindered access from the sea and a trimodal connection to the hinterland, but definitely also due to the presence of specialist logistics service providers.

Strong clusters

Within Europe, Zeeland Seaports has earned a leading role as a storage and handling location for wood pulp and aluminium, for example. Partly as a result of this, the clusters forest products and metals are very well represented in the Zeeland ports. These clusters are only growing stronger because companies in the port dare to invest in expanding and modernizing their capacity.

Room for growth

Zeeland Seaports sees opportunities for growth when it comes to breakbulk. The leading role it already occupies in a number of market sectors serves as an example of how the Zeeland port can grow further in the storage and handling of other types of cargo, such as metals.

The developments in world trade and the changing logistical concepts demand more space in seaports. This also applies to a seaport that has efficient access by inland shipping, coastal shipping, rail and road transport. Zeeland Seaports can offer this space and these distribution possibilities. Furthermore, the shipping companies benefit from Zeeland’s central location and the shorter sailing times.

Terminals dedicated to breakbulk:


  • MammoetMultipurposeTerminalTerneuzen; v Pacorini Metals Vlissingen;
  • Supermaritime Nederland;
  • VerbruggeTerminals;and
  • BOW Terminal.



Goods are increasingly being transported by container throughout the world. This growth is also expected to continue into the future. Naturally, Zeeland Seaports is responding to this trend. There are already container-handling facilities in the port. Thanks partly to the good connections by inland shipping, rail, short sea shipping and road, containers quickly find their way to the hinterland.

In the coming years, the facilities for handling containers in the Zeeland ports will expand considerably. Zeeland Seaports has plans for the arrival of modern, specialized container terminals, among other things. That offers plenty of opportunities for shipping companies, carriers, receivers and many other parties in the logistical chain to share in this growth.

Central location

Vlissingen is close to international sailing routes for container transport. The port lends itself very well to the import and export of containers without any form of congestion. It is logical, therefore, that Zeeland Seaports aims to grow into an important player in Northwest Europe when it comes to containers.


Liquid bulk continues to play an important role in the ports of Zeeland. That is apparent from, among other things, the investments various companies have made in the liquid bulk sector in recent times. Despite the adverse economic climate, they chose precisely this period to build on the future. 


Ro/ro transshipment without encountering any form of congestion en route? That sounds almost impossible, but it can be done at Zeeland Seaports, thanks to the favourable location at the mouth of the Western Scheldt, the rapid handling of vessels and the congestion-free hinterland connections. These factors combine to make Zeeland Seaports a logical choice as a vital link in the ro/ro supply chain.


Within the offshore market, Zeeland Seaports has been a reliable and sizeable player for many years, thanks to its strategic location vis-a`-vis many offshore oil and gas rigs and wind farms in the North Sea, and also thanks to the excellent nautical access for installation vessels: no locks and hardly any waiting times. And all of this is combined with excellent access via inland shipping.


Onions, potatoes, fruit, fruit juices, dairy produce, meat and fish: examples of food products which are shipped in and out of the Zeeland port all the time. Bananas also travel via Zeeland nowadays. As up-and-coming player in the food market, Zeeland Seaports is profiling itself more strongly all the time.


More than 250 logistics and industrial businesses together form the Zeeland ports. What spearheads Zeeland Seaports is the idea that companies can benefit from each other’s strengths as much as possible. One way in which this occurs is through the formation of clusters. Valuepark Terneuzen, a successful cluster of companies in the chemical industry, has already been a good example of this for ten years.

Port of Ghent and Zeeland Seaports have won the award for ‘Best IT solution’ issued by the International Bulk Journal for their cross-border port information system ENIGMA+. Both ports are accessible through the same gateway to the Ghent–Terneuzen Canal. Since the beginning of 2015, vessels as well as companies only have to use one single cross-border port information system for all arrivals at and departures from the ports of Ghent and Terneuzen.

Until 2015 the Flemish port of Ghent and the Dutch Zeeland Seaports each had their own port information system. For vessels that had to sail on the Ghent–Terneuzen Canal, all vessel and maritime information had to be entered into two port information systems. In order to have this done in a more efficient way, the ports decided to jointly offer one single port information system. Ghent’s ENIGMA (Electronic Network for Information in the Ghent Maritime Area) system was extended in order to meet the needs of Zeeland Seaports. For example, it can also be linked to the Port Base port information system that is used by different Dutch ports.

ENIGMA+ for maritime information and service rendering

The extended port information system ENIGMA+ (Electronic Network for Information in the Ghent–Zeeland Maritime Area) comprises among other things the follow-up of arrivals and departures, vessel berths in both ports and a view of the vessels that are on their way. ENIGMA+ is also linked with information systems of other maritime service providers. Moreover, it is also a communication platform for the various port users for ordering services like dockworkers for the loading and unloading of ships, boatmen for fastening ships and for tugs. Users can safely and smoothly log on to the system from around the world.

Unique cooperation: cross-border shipping assistance

One single and joint port information system for two ports situated along the border between Flanders and the Netherlands forms part of the unique cooperation between the ports of Ghent and Zeeland Seaports. In this way, the ports are already preparing themselves for the taking into use in 2021 of the larger new lock in the lock complex of the Dutch port of Terneuzen.

Ghent-Terneuzen Canal: one border-crossing economic area
The Flemish port of Ghent and the Dutch Zeeland Seaports are situated at the Ghent–Terneuzen Canal. This border-crossing economic zone is good for 60 million tonnes of cargo traffic by seagoing vessels, with which the ports together would from the seventh biggest port in Western Europe. The 32km-long canal (17km in the Netherlands and 15km in Flanders) represents 100,000 jobs, 425 companies and 80,000 inhabitants. The canal is not only important as gateway to both seaports but it also forms a major link in the European network of inland navigation between the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France.

IBJ Awards

The award was presented in mid-November last year at the gala of the International Bulk Journal in Antwerp. The IBJ Awards are a recognition of the realizations of companies from the bulk sector to improve efficiency, safety and environmental protection. Also on the list of the selected candidates for the ‘Best IT solution Award’ were ports from Great Britain, Germany and the United States.

The Port of Ghent and Zeeland Seaports had already won IBJ Awards before. This is the first time that they jointly carried off an IBJ Award. 

Port of Amsterdam reports on recent bulk trends  
Port of Amsterdam is a top player as regards to dry bulk goods, such as coal and cocoa. During the past few years,Amsterdam has grown to become one of the world’s leading ports for coal. Amsterdam is the second-largest coal transshipment port in Europe. Dry bulk throughput accounts for 35% of the port’s total annual throughput.

The seaports in the North Sea Canal Area, which includes the ports of Amsterdam, IJmuiden, Beverwijk and Zaanstad, saw transshipment decrease in 2015 for the first time in years. The decrease amounted to 1%, with a total of 97mt (million tonnes) in 2015 compared to 97.8mt in 2014. Port of Amsterdam is the largest port in the region and saw its transshipment edged down by 1.8% to 78.4mt (2014: 79.8mt).The above transshipment figures are tentative, with definitive figures expected in the next few weeks. Transshipment in IJmuiden rose to 17.9mt (+2%). Zaanstad and Beverwijk saw transshipment increase to 340,000 tonnes (+47%) and 343,000 tonnes (+44%) respectively.


The decrease in Amsterdam has been caused primarily by lower transhipment in dry bulk cargo. The transshipment of coal fell by 11% to 17.3mt. The transshipment of agribulk also decreased by 6% to 7.4mt. In contrast, other dry bulk cargo, including ores and fertilizers, rose by 9% to 8mt.

Other cargo flows remained either approximately the same or increased slightly in 2015. The transshipment of oil products totalled 39.4mt in 2015, compared to 38.9mt in 2014 (+1%). Other liquid bulk cargo rose by 11% to 3.4mt. The transshipment of containers decreased slightly from 633,000 tonnes in 2014 to 615,000 tonnes (=51,634 TEU) in 2015. Ro/Ro, automobiles and other mixed cargo fell by 8% to 2.3mt in 2015.


Approximately 18.5 hectares of land was leased out to companies in 2015. This trend is expected to continue.


Imports in Port of Amsterdam decreased by 4% to 50.8mt in 2015. Exports conversely grew by 3% to 27.6mt.


A total of 134 sea cruise ships and more than 1,768 river cruise ships called in Amsterdam in 2015. This equals a respective increase of 8 and 83 compared to 2014. A total of 44 sea cruise ships called in Ijmuiden. This brings the total at 178 sea cruise ships in the North Sea Canal Area.

Port of Amsterdam CEO Dertje Meijer:“We had a record level of transshipment in the first six months of 2015. Transshipment in the second six months of 2015 did, however, lag behind expectations. This relates to the extremely mild winter weather, which meant less coal was needed for power plants.This is not a trend. While we expect to return to growth in 2016, as an international port we are dependent upon volatile energy markets and geopolitical developments. PRODOCK will open in 2016 and we will also further shape our ambitions for a circular and bio-based economy.” 

ZHD Stevedores: set firm on a course of self-improvement  

In order to further strengthen its position in the Rotterdam Rijnmond area and keep on serving its customers in a modern and professional way, there has been an extensive investment programme at ZHD Stevedores in the last decade. The Rotterdam based (family owned) private company with almost 50 years of stevedoring experience, is still investing in new equipment, new terminal-areas and further professionalizing its company and services.

Every day the customer should experience new developments, improved efficiency and customer-based solutions. This approach has been company policy since the beginning. ZHD Stevedores handles a wide range of commodities, varying from coal (up to Capesize), grains and minerals to niche markets like scrap, biomass and waste (recycling) products. The long-term vision and continuity of the company — the fourth generation in the family will succeed the third in 2016 — gives it a healthy base for further expansion and developments. The ability to supply and invest in flexible solutions for its customers on the various terminals of ZHD and/or on the buoys/dolphins in the port of Rotterdam, has been the key to the growth of ZHD in the last decade.

Although some of the major commodities of ZHD have shown a major decrease due to market circumstances, like biomass (Dutch subsidy schemes) and steel scrap (decreased exports), ZHD still has been able to reach a level of around 7mt (million tonnes) on transshipment at the various locations. This means that ZHD has continued and maintained its transshipment level of 2014. Furthermore, ZHD is currently finalizing the development of its new terminal in The Port of Moerdijk (Roode Vaart). Here, there will be about 75,000m3 of high-standard storage capacity, suitable for all kind of products (agricultural, GMP+, minerals, biomass, etc.).

Milestones, as from 2012 were:

  • a new 50-tonne self-propelled floating crane, which became operational in July 2012;
  • GMP+ certification — December 2012.
  • new-building of covered warehouses, with a capacity of 50,000m3 in total — operational from August 2013;
  • acquisition of a new terminal in the Port of Moerdijk (Roode Vaart) — July 2014;
  • acquisition of two additional self propelled floating cranes (formerly owned by Port of Antwerp) — May 2015;
  • investment in own environmental (dust prevention) team and equipment — August 2015; and
  • the development of additional bulk warehousing capacity in Moerdijk — projected for completion mid 2016.


Apart from handling dry bulk products like minerals, coal, petcokes and seasonal products like salt and fertilizers, ZHD Stevedores has been focusing on handling and storage in niche markets such as steel-scrap, biomass (wood pellets) and waste materials. As environmentally friendly operations are an important priority of ZHD, the company has invested in its own dust prevention systems, operated by specialized personnel. This enables ZHD to guarantee customers storage and transshipment in a sustainable way.

From the 1st of January 2013 ZHD has been GMP+ certified, which — in combination with the projected warehouses in 

Moerdijk — will enable it to play a (modest) role in this market. The growing demand for bulk warehousing for further distribution (a.o. by truck) to the feed industry at a more inland locations, will enable ZHD to develop the Roode Vaart terminal into an interesting alternative for this industry outside the Rotterdam Port periphery.

Special services are offered in the fields of breakbulk and the handling of bulk in/from containers (a.o. minerals, scrap, agribulk) — a global trend which will grow in the future — is not unfamiliar to ZHD Stevedores and completes the handling portfolio of the stevedore. With its steel terminal in Moerdijk, ZHD performs handling of coils as well as other steel products, such as wire-rods, steel bundles, etc.

Rotterdam-based ZHD Stevedoring is a family owned, private company with almost 50 years of stevedoring experience. ZHD is active in the total so-called Rotterdam-Rijnmond area, with terminals in Dordrecht and Moerdijk, but also with its (self- propelled) floating cranes in Rotterdam. The company offers services in bulk, neo bulk, steel products, coils and container handling, including warehousing and storage (open, covered and floating). ZHD has both road mobile and floating equipment and is able to handle all kinds of product. All ZHD terminals are able to work round the clock (24/7) and are ISO and ISPS certified. Furthermore, ZHD also has water-related sites available for further (industrial) development. 

EBS continues to improve and expand its facilities to serve bulk customers  

European Bulk Services (EBS) B.V. is an internationally respected stevedoring company with a focus on the storage and transshipment of dry bulk goods. EBS operates from two strategically located terminals in the Port of Rotterdam and has its own fleet of crane vessels. Approximately 180 full-time employees work for EBS, generating approximately 45 million in revenues per year.


European Bulk Services (EBS) B.V. conducts its business operations from two strategically located areas in the Rotterdam port area, namely the EBS Europoort terminal (at the Capesize dolphins), and the EBS St. Laurenshaven terminal, a Panamax terminal.
The terminals have excellent connections to deep seaways, hinterland by inland waters, railways and trucks by highways. The terminals can be reached without having to pass a single lock.All types of ships can be handled at these terminals, 
from Capesize to coastal and river barge. The Europoort terminal is one-and-a-half-hours’ sailing time to/from the pilot station and the Laurenshaven terminal is three hours’ sailing time to/from the pilot station.


This site, a Panamax terminal, mainly handles minerals, coal, biomass and agribulk products.

EBS offers various open and covered storage facilities. The new storage shed, with a net volume of 30,000m3, consists of three compartments of 10,000m3 each. This storage facility is suitable for dry bulk products of all kinds. The roof has movable steel hatches which can be opened and closed remotely by the crane operator. Due to an advanced security system, the grab cannot cause any damage to the walls of the shed. The two existing sheds of each 32,000m3 have been fully refurbished.  


In order to meet the special requirements of the coal import market, EBS has invested in several (electro) magnet systems for

cleaning contaminated coal with iron parts. The Laurenshaven terminal, with a depth of 13.85m, is perfectly equipped to handle and store, amongst others, coal from Russian load ports. These load ports have a similar maximum draught to the St. Laurenshaven. Receivers of Russian coals can be extra sure of the quality of their coal if their product is cleaned for metals via the EBS de- ironing installation. The electro magnets are installed in such a way that the coal can be cleaned either via storage or via board to board discharge operations.


European Bulk Services has built a 65,000m3 storage shed at its Europoort Agri Terminal. The existing deep-water jetty is extended by the Port of Rotterdam. On this new jetty, which will accommodate vessels with a draught of up to 16 metres, EBS will install a new hopper and a new conveyor system linked to the existing conveyors. The existing train/truck loading station is completely modified and extended. Completion of the conveyors on the jetty is expected in January 2016.