With nearly 69 million tons of seaborne cargo transhipped in 2021, North Sea Port grew 9% compared to the Covid year of 2020. Indeed, transhipment via inland navigation experienced a full recovery to nearly 60 million tons.
After this year, the cross-border port expects to completely eliminate losses due to the pandemic in 2022.
For the year 2021, businesses in the Dutch-Flemish port of North Sea Port recorded cargo transhipment of 68.9 million tons via maritime shipping, a growth of 9% compared to 2020. This leaves the port only 4% below its record year of 2019. Imports increased by 12%, exports by 1%. The import-export ratio was 72% / 28%.
Bulk on the rise
North Sea Port has traditionally been a true bulk port. Dry bulk again accounted for more than half of seaborne cargo transhipment in 2021: 53% (36.4 million tons, +12% compared to 2020). This segment fully recovered in 2021 and actually displayed growth compared to the record year of 2019. That growth was seen in commodities including building materials, grains, coal, iron ore and scrap metal.
The roll on/roll off (ro/ro) segment grew by 5% (3.6 million tons, +37%). Again, we not only observe growth in 2021 but also a bigger share versus that record year in 2019. The rise was due to increased transportation of trailers and steel. The number of cars transported remained the same.
Liquid bulk accounted for 24% of the total in 2021 (16.7 million tons, +3%). The increase was particularly marked in the transhipment of vegetable oils and chemical products.
The share of break bulk was 14% (9.5 million tons, +2%). This increase is attributable to growth in the transhipment of cellulose, steel and bananas (shift from containerised transport).
Containers, by cargo type, made up 4% (2.6 million tons, -3%; however, measured in TEUs there was an increase of 27% to 262,000 TEUs). One reason for the decline was the reduced transportation of bananas in containers (shift to transportation as break bulk). The container segment has remained at the same level for the past 3 years.
Broken down by commodity type, we see an increase in agricultural products, solid mineral fuels, ores, minerals and construction materials, chemical products, plus vehicles, machinery, containers and trailers. Food products, petroleum products, metallurgical products and fertilisers have remained static.
Most important trading partners
Russia continued to be the port’s most important trading partner in terms of seaborne cargo traffic in 2021, followed by Brazil, Great Britain, the United States and Sweden. Numbers six to ten on the list were Norway, Turkey, Canada, France and Spain.
Europe accounted for 61% of trade, South America 17%, North America 12%, Africa 5%, Asia 3% and Oceania 2%.
Inland navigation back to previous levels
Cargo transhipment via inland navigation also experienced a full recovery in 2021 – by 9% to 59.7 million tons, largely thanks to a surge in exports carried by barge (+14%). As a result, the port is well above its pre-pandemic volume of 58.5 million tons. The import-export ratio was as follows: 41% / 59%.
With a seaborne transhipment volume of 68.9 million tons and 59.7 million tons of cargo transhipped via inland navigation, North Sea Port recorded a total transhipment of 128.6 million tons in 2021, compared to 118.3 million tons in 2020. Over 10 million tons more, in other words.
North Sea Port allocated over 55 hectares of land to investors in 2021.
Towards a full recovery
A partial ‘Covid recovery’ to a level approaching the figures for the record year of 2019 had previously been forecast for 2021, and a full recovery by the end of 2022. This revival has been in evidence since the fourth quarter of 2020, and in 2021 seaborne cargo traffic continued to increase quarter-on-quarter. The expectation is therefore that the losses due to the pandemic will be made up in 2022.