Bulk handling in and around the Port of Rotterdam

Rotterdam is one of the main ports and the largest logistic and industrial hubs of Europe. With an annual throughput of 434.6mt (million tonnes) of cargo in 2011, Rotterdam is by far the largest seaport of Europe. The port is the gateway to an European market of more than 350 million consumers. Rotterdam owes its position to the excellent accessibility via the sea, the hinterland connections and the many companies and organizations, active in the port and industrial complex. The port stretches out over 40 kilometres and is about 10,500 ha (excluding Maasvlakte 2).


Despite the ailing economy, freight throughput in the port of Rotterdam grew by 1.7% in 2012.A total of 442 million tonnes of cargo went through the port. Hans Smits, President and CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority: “Although the growth is limited, it is another record for Rotterdam. Container throughput increased slightly in 2012, thanks especially to exports. In the dry bulk market segment, the declining steel production in Europe was responsible for reduced throughput, especially of ore. This shift was more than compensated by the growth in liquid bulk: more crude oil and oil products particularly were handled. The latter category has actually tripled in size over the past ten years. That shows that the port of Rotterdam is increasingly becoming a hub for global trade. This helps the port to continue to grow, as global trade generally develops faster than the Dutch and the European economies. The positive throughput figures for this year do not alter the fact that the profit margins for many companies are under pressure, some businesses are in the red and some are dismissing staff.” The Port of Rotterdam Authority expects growth of around 2% next year.


In dry bulk, less cargo was handled across the board. Bad harvests in major grain and oil seed exporting countries and the ensuing high prices caused agribulk throughput to drop by 18%. Iron ore and scrap dropped 12% due to the low steel production in Europe. Several blast furnaces have closed. Throughput of cokes coal (used in blast furnaces) did not keep pace with the drop in iron ore handling, because cargo flows were bundled and now go via the port of Rotterdam. Cokes coal throughput dropped nevertheless by 4%. The causes are the reduced demand for coal for electricity generation due to the availability of plenty of sustainable energy in the summer and stocks being used up. Throughput of other dry bulk dropped by 9%, due especially to the slump in building and disappointing industrial production. A total of 79mt of dry bulk was handled. LIQUID BULK The throughput of crude oil increased this year by 6%, putting it back at the ‘normal’ level. On the one hand the refinery sector experienced fewer significant maintenance breaks than last year and on the other hand production capacity ceased elsewhere in Europe, a reason why production here was driven up. Similar to previous years, the throughput of mineral oil products increased, this time by 12%.The most important cause is the increased oil product trade, due chiefly to the differences in the price of fuel oil in Europe and Asia. It is worthwhile, for instance, to ship Russian fuel oil via the port of Rotterdam to the Far East.The throughput of naphtha, gas oil, diesel, kerosene and petrol also increased. LNG imports remained at a low level, because the prices in Asia are much higher, resulting in the product being transported to the Far East rather than to Europe. Other liquid bulk experienced growth of 4%, partly through the start-up of Neste (palm oil import) and the increased import of bio diesel. A total of 214mt of liquid bulk was handled. This cargo segment thus represents half of the cargo throughput in the Port of Rotterdam.


The continuing economic slump means less cargo is imported and more is exported. The balance of those two is a growth of 2% in tonnage. Because export containers are heavier on average and furthermore, fewer containers were going back empty, the throughput in numbers of containers (TEU) stayed the same. The port of Rotterdam lost cargo in the feeder market, but gained short sea containers. The 11.9 million TEU in containers came to 126mt. Roll on/roll off increased by 3%, despite the ailing British economy. Other general cargo dropped by 23%, due especially to the greatly reduced import of steel. This brings breakbulk to a total of –5% with 24mt.


The market share of the Port of Rotterdam in the Hamburg–Le Havre range increased over the past five years by an average of 0.5 percentage points per year to 37.7% in the third quarter of 2012. The difference with Hamburg and Antwerp in the container segment which arose in 2009 was preserved.


In view of the prospects of the development of the Dutch and European, and especially the German economies, modest growth of around 2% is expected again for 2013. This means that the throughput for next year will probably approach 450mt. The throughput is expected to increase slightly faster in the subsequent years, on the one hand, because the economic prospects for 2014 are better and on the other hand, because the current investments in tank storage, container terminals and coal-fired power plants will result in more throughput over time.

EMO, 40 years old and fully equipped to meet customer expectations


Since 1973, the EMO terminal in the Port of Rotterdam has been a major hub in transporting coal and iron ore from all over the world to the European hinterland. EMO has always been a reliable partner for its customers in helping to control these flows of goods by combining daily processes with a clear vision for the future. EMO is able to accommodate the world’s largest dry bulk vessels, and yet it never ceases to look to the future and plan ahead — now more than ever! In 2012, EMO strongly increased its storage and transshipment capacity and efficiency by commissioning five new, state-of-the-art projects: its seventh stacker reclaimer, its fifth unloader, a second fully automated coal wagon loader, a brand- new seagoing vessel loader along an innovative, new quay, and a high-tech operations centre. These projects ensure that it is fully equipped to enhance its safety, efficiency and sustainability performance, and to continue to serve its customers as a reliable partner in dry bulk transshipment in the coming decades. EMO operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It handles large bulk shipments; its discharge capacity is 47mt (million tonnes) and its throughput capacity is 60mt. EMO approaches its work and planning with the greatest care, and strives to ensure that it remains right up to date. EMO believes that keeping the terminal state-of-the-art as well as making necessary improvements is the key to serving its customers. EMO’s highly skilled trained personnel work closely together. Skilled employees working with innovative technology guarantee that it can give its customers the quality, efficiency and sustainability they seek. MEETING MARKET DEMANDS Currently, EMO’s 160-hectare area can hold 7mt of storage. EMO is ideally located on a 23m-deep waterway connected directly to the North Sea. Rotterdam harbour has excellent rail and waterway connections to the rest of Europe. EMO is a partner that its can rely on and continue to trust. Why? The company stays on top of the latest developments in the market. EMO continually analyzes its customers’ needs, the quality of its services and its terminal’s performance. In anticipation of market trends and customer needs, EMO is continuously geared towards offering a more efficient, cleaner and safer terminal, one designed to meet its customers’ highest expectations.

European Bulk Services: stevedoring specialist at the Port of Rotterdam

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. EBS is a wholly owned subsidiary of H.E.S. Beheer N.V.


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 St. Laurenshaven terminal is three hours’ sailing time to/from the pilot station. 


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 St. 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.


EBS strives to provide tailor- made services in consultation with its clients and offers: v transshipment of Capesize and Panamax carriers into coastal vessels and river barges by means of floating cranes and gantry grab cranes; v open and covered storage facilities; v blending facilities and weighing services; v excellent transshipment facilities via road river and sea; and v SKAL, USDA-NOP certificates and GMP+, BLU Code, ISPS and ISO certified administration procedures.


The new ‘West 4’ area is now fully operational. The new area is equipped with a new conveyer belt system and a mobile loading system. West 4 provides EBS with an extra 300,000 tonnes of storage capacity, bringing the total storage capacity at the Laurenshaven Terminal to 1.6 million tonnes. In the future, EBS plans to install extra magnetic separators for contaminated coal for the Laurenshaven Terminal. EBS has also invested in a new mobile loading system on the West 1 site in order to give more flexibility for the reclaiming of the cargo. The contract for the new equipment was awarded to N.M. Heilig B.V. in Heerhugowaard. The mobile loaders are operating satisfactorily. Among new developments at EBS is a temperature control system for stored goods, to be used to monitor coal and to prevent it self-combusting. The infrared operating method enables EBS to detect high temperatures in the stockpiles.

ZHD Stevedoring: new 50-tonne floating crane enters full operation

ZHD Stevedoring, an independent, privately owned stevedoring company in the Netherlands, has brought a new 50-tonne self- propelled floating crane into full operation. ZHD Stevedoring is headquartered in Dordrecht and also operates in Rotterdam (floating terminal) and Moerdijk (Vlasweg, Graanweg, ZHD Steel). In order to further strengthen its position in the Rotterdam Rijnmond area, and keep on serving its customers in a modern and professional way, some €20 million have been invested at ZHD Stevedoring over the course of the last two years. The Rotterdam-based family owned, private company with 45 years of stevedoring experience, has been able to continue the strong growth from 2011 into 2012.


  • a new mobile Gottwald crane (HMK 6407B, High Tower), which has been operational in Dordrecht since April 2011
  • upgrading loading and discharging facilities for waste-materials at Moerdijk — May 2011; 
  • a new 150m-long quay wall (Mallegat Quay Dordrecht) — opened in June 2011; 
  • 20,000m2 of new developed storage area at Dordrecht — opened in December 2011;
  • a new 50-tonne self-propelled floating crane — operational as of July 2012 and presented as highlight during the World Port Days in Rotterdam.


Although forecasts for 2013 are still uncertain, ZHD Stevedoring has decided to keep on investing in 2013. In the middle of 2012, ZHD Stevedoring started its preparations for the construction of approximately 50,000m3 of covered storage in Dordrecht, DCi 50 JANUARY 2013 PORTS, TERMINALS & LOGISTICS which will be finished and operational in the second quarter of 2013. The demand for covered storage from both existing as well as potential new customers has been high in 2012, says Leo Lokker, commercial director at ZHD Stevedoring. “By investing in covered storage facilities, we expect and trust to serve our customers even better,” says Lokker. “The same goes for our new self-propelled 50-tonne floating crane which is now operational in Dordrecht, Moerdijk and — of course — Rotterdam. This new self-propelled 50-tonne floating crane further expands ZHD Stevedoring’s crane capacity and already has proven to increase performance and service of ZHD Stevedoring.”


As of 1 July 2011 the municipality of Dordrecht and the Rotterdam Port Authorities have entered into an agreement to bundle forces, which in January 2012 will be formalized. This implicates that of this date (officially) the Port of Dordrecht has become an integral part of the Port of Rotterdam with all its benefits. Although already active in Rotterdam for many years, by means of its self-propelled floating cranes, ZHD Stevedoring recognizes the advantages being an official part of The Port of Rotterdam. In close co-operation with the Rotterdam Port Authorities, ZHD Stevedoring is looking into possibilities and started the negotiations to reclaim a further ten hectares of land at its terminal in Dordrecht. These ten hectares will be connected directly to the water with a 750m new quay wall with 9.45m draught, able to accommodate vessels up to Handysize. Of course, on the buoys in Rotterdam, larger vessels can be handled. ZHD expects to announce a positive outcome of these negotiations soon, at which point the preparation and construction of this huge project can be started. Apart from handling products like minerals, coal, petcokes and seasonal products as salt, ZHD Stevedoring has been focusing on handling and storage in niche markets such as steel- scrap, biomass (woodpellets) and waste-materials. From the 1st of November ZHD also has been GMP+ certified, giving them the possibility to play their part in the transhipment of agricultural products. Special services are offered in the field of break bulk and the handling of bulk in/from containers (a.o. minerals, scrap) – a global trend which will grow in the future - are not unfamiliar to ZHD Stevedoring 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 more than 40 years of stevedoring experience. ZHD is active in the total so-called Rotterdam-Rijnmond area, with terminals in Dordrecht and Moerdijk, but also with their (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.

Royal HaskoningDHV develops biomass handling terminal concept

In Europe, it is anticipated that biomass will play a major role in meeting national targets in terms of the reduction of fossil fuel CO2 emissions and the introduction of renewable energy sources. The European Union has set ambitious targets to increase the amount of power generated from biomass and thereby reduce the carbon footprint. The shift from coal power to biomass power, especially in northern Europe, implies an increasing demand for transport, handling and storage of biomass as well as hubs and supply chains from which intercontinental transport can be distributed at a regional or local level. The supply and demand gap for biomass in 2020 has been forecasted between 26–38 Mtoe (55 to 85 million tonnes of wood pellets). This increase in biomass requires an increase in capacity of the Northern European ports and of the logistical chains.To this end a vision of the future has been developed.


A wood pellet biomass hub in Rotterdam, or one of the other major ports in Northern Europe, could handle a large volume of intercontinental trade and redistribute the product across Europe. Although there are similarities between handling wood pellets and other dry bulk products, there are some important product requirements and characteristics which have a major impact on the design of such a biomass facility. Royal HaskoningDHV has developed a concept of a biomass terminal which maximizes safety and the quality of the product. Some elements of this concept are explained below. A wood pellet biomass hub will be just one element in a supply chain. From this perspective, supply chain optimization shall determine the best modes of transport for different volumes of product to and from different locations. Important client requirements are minimizing pellet breakage and protection from moisture and precipitation. Potential solutions are the use of sandwich conveyors and coverage of conveyors and loading areas. An important implication of handling biomass is the increased safety risks as a result of dust and bio-activity. The biomass terminal concept includes various solutions to strongly reduce dust and to reduce associated explosion risks. Both quality and operational excellence require a high degree of automation. Automation will minimize handling of the product, will provide transparency of product data and will help optimizing the logistical chain. Finally, as a means to reduce the CO2 footprint of the energy sector, sustainable development should be pursued. All means to reduce the footprint of the terminal have been assessed, such as energy reduction, use of residual energy of neighbours and the reduction of captured carbon in structures. Although the terminal is developed as a theoretical terminal with all possible features, a real case terminal is expected to use many of the developed solutions, based on life-time cost calculations and carbon impact calculations.


Due to experience with projects with these products in handling and storage facilities, as well as the supporting logistical chains, including at these scales, Royal HaskoningDHV will be a key partner to all those wishing to enter, or expand, the biomass handling business.