On 8 December last year, a new milestone was reached in the rich port history of the Low Countries. That day marks the official launch of the company formed by the merger between Ghent Port Company (Flanders) and Zeeland Seaports (the Netherlands). Appropriately, it is now known as: North Sea Port.

Eight publicly-owned shareholders agreed to this cross-border merger. On behalf of Zeeland Seaports in the Netherlands, incorporating the ports of Vlissingen and Terneuzen, they are the province of Zeeland and the municipalities of Borsele, Terneuzen and Vlissingen. On behalf of the port of Ghent, they are the city of Ghent, the municipalities of Evergem and Zelzate and the province of East Flanders.


With 66.6mt (million tonnes) of seaborne cargo traffic, North Sea Port is making a confident start to operations. The new merger port can already boast a range of record figures as a specialist in bulk and general cargo traffic.

North Sea Port’s seaborne cargo traffic for the year 2017 amounts to 66.6mt with a 71% import share and a 29% export share. If the merged cross-border port had already existed before, then this would have been the best result ever (+6.9%). Inland navigation cargo traffic accounts for 56.5mt, which would equally have been a record. Consequently, seagoing as well as inland navigation together experienced a record start, which can be found back in the total cargo traffic figure for seagoing and inland navigation: 123.1mt.


Handling bulk cargo is North Sea Port’s absolute speciality with — among other goods — iron ore, coal, foodstuffs, grains and fertilizers. Its additional handling of general cargo (steel, paper, wood, fruit and project cargo) means that North Sea Port is at the forefront of European ports.

Dry bulk represents about half of the seaborne cargo traffic (47%). Liquid bulk takes up almost one third (29%). Practically one-fifth of the volume is conventional general cargo (17%). Ro/ro (6%) and container traffic (2%) complete the picture.

North Sea Port aims at both transatlantic navigation and at European coastal navigation. As for the division according to the continents, Europe takes up 61%. The South and North American navigational areas represent 15% and 14% respectively. Africa takes up 5%, Asia 3% and finally Oceania 2%.


In 2017, the Zeeland port area registered seaborne cargo traffic of 34.1mt thanks to a strong second half of the year. This is 2.7% more than in 2016, the third best result ever. The increase is especially noticeable in liquid bulk, containers and dry bulk. Inland navigation traffic was 33.5mt, the best result ever.

This brings total cargo traffic to the highest level ever reached, at 67.6mt. A long shutdown of a big company did influence the traffic figures. However, the total figures do not include all activities. To these figures, the approximately 10mt of liquid bulk in the form of crude oil that enter the port by pipeline can be added — traditionally, these amounts are not included. Moreover, Zeeland has experienced a strong increase in non- tonnage-related activities such as the offshore sector. As a rule, this is also not included in traffic figures.

In 2017, with 32.5mt the Ghent port area achieved the best result ever and a second record in a row for its seaborne cargo traffic. This is an increase of no less than 11.7%, mainly because of the record growth in dry bulk traffic. Inland navigation traffic there totals 23mt, which is 5.1% better than in 2016 — or the second-best result ever. Overall seaborne and inland navigation traffic together come in at 55.5mt, or 4.5mt more than in 2016.


In 2017, North Sea Port granted 44.6 hectares of land. In Zeeland a total of 19.5 hectares of land was granted, 11.2 hectares of which on a long lease and another 8.3 hectares were sold. In Ghent, a total of 25.1 hectares was granted. Of that surface area, 9.4 hectares were given in concession and 15.7 hectares were expansions of existing concessions.

At this moment, North Sea Port has 1,000 hectares of land available that can be granted to investors.


North Sea Port represents an added value of €13.3 billion. A total of 98,680 people are working in the cross-border 60km-long port area.