Hamburg - In 2016 Germany’s largest universal port achieved a turnaround in seaborne cargo throughput, reaching a total 138.2 million tons in the general and bulk cargo segments. ‘Seaborne cargo throughput in the Port of Hamburg again developed upwards with an increase of 0.3 percent. Stronger general cargo throughput offset a slight downturn in bulk cargo throughput. The Port of Hamburg is also contemplating a positive trend for 2017,’ said Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing. The successful development of seaport-hinterland transport by rail was maintained. ‘Hamburg is further extending its position as Europe’s leading rail port. In 2016, 46.4 million tons of freight (up 1.5 percent) and 2.4 million TEU (up 2.4 percent) were transported in/out of the port by rail. Now at 46.6 percent, the proportion of freight transported by rail received a further boost” said Ingo Egloff, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing.
After an initially modest start at the beginning of the year, container throughput picked up during the second half, achieving a 1.0 percent advance over twelve months to 8.9 million TEU. At 91.7 million tons, total containerized cargo volume rose by 1.2 percent. The container traffic with Asia that is of such special importance for the Port of Hamburg was up by 1.3 percent at 4.7 million TEU. Also dominating in Hamburg, container throughput with Chinese ports made good progress, increasing by 1.6 percent to 2.6 million TEU. Container services on trade routes with North and South America were 2.9 percent ahead at 1.2 million TEU. Handling 2.6 million TEU, the European container trade remained at the previous year’s level. A gratifying 4.5 percent increase took container traffic with Russia up to 453,000 TEU. ‘Despite trade sanctions remaining in force, Russia returned to second place (2015: third) among the Port of Hamburg’s container transport trading partners,’ reported Ingo Egloff. As before, direct calls by container liner services in Gothenburg and Danzig caused downturns in Hamburg’s seaborne container throughput with Sweden, 10.6 percent lower at 243,000 TEU, and Poland, down by 9.7 percent at 214,000 TEU. Totalling 1.8 million TEU, container services with the Baltic nevertheless remained at the previous year’s level. Up 2.0 percent at 241,000 TEU, India’s continuingly growing importance remained very satisfactory. The country now takes tenth place in the list of Hamburg’s top trading partners for container transport.
Other positive trends in container traffic can be reported with the USA, 11.1 percent up at 363,000 TEU, United Kingdom, 12.6 percent up at 246,000 TEU, United Arab Emirates, 11.1 percent up at 234,000 TEU, and Mexico, 17.8 percent higher at 74,000 TEU. On both imports and exports, the Port of Hamburg’s throughput balance for 2016 reflected growth. At 4.6 million TEU, imports were up by 1.2 percent, while exports at 4.3 million TEU scored a 0.7 percent advance. ‘Despite lower transhipment-container services by feederships to/from Sweden and Poland, on total throughput the port can report an upward trend for both imports and exports. Growth was primarily generated by container services with Asia and the Americas,’ explained Mattern. On bulk cargo throughput, accounting for throughput of 44.9 million tons (down 1.3 percent) in Hamburg in 2016, imports and exports fared differently. On the import side, a total of 33.4 million tons represented a gain of 3.0 percent. On exports, at 11.5 million tons bulk cargo throughput was down on the previous year by 11.9 percent. Ensuring import growth were the following segments: suction cargoes – oilseeds, grains & feedstuffs – that were 7.8 percent higher at 4.3 million tons, and liquid cargoes that rose by 9.7 percent to 10.7 million tons. Here the main cause of the increase was a 29.4 percent advance to 9.7 million tons in imports of oil products.
Mainly involving coal and ores, grab cargo throughput was slightly – 1.4 percent – down to 18.5 million tons on the previous year. At 11.5 million tons, exports in the suction, liquid and grab cargo segments were down by 11.9 percent, for various reasons. Apart from the harvest-related downturn in grain exports, down by 23.2 percent at 3.2 million tons, another in oil products was also recorded. At 2.2 million tons, these were 20.6 percent lower than in the especially strong previous year, primarily as the result of the closure of a major refinery in Hamburg, where oil product exports ceased. At 3.5 million tons – down by 0.5 percent – the result on grab cargoes almost matched the previous year. In 2016, at 1.5 million tons throughput of non-containerized general cargoes, for example bulky plant elements and wheeled cargo, was 11.0 percent down on the previous year. On the import side, with the total 9.7 percent lower at 518,000 tons, growing totals for citrus fruits – 1.7 percent higher at 182,000 tons – and other conventional cargoes, for example large machinery, proved unable to offset downturns for paper, wood, metal and vehicles.
On exports of conventional general cargoes, with the total down 11.6 percent at one million tons, growth for timber, iron and steel failed to offset lower vehicle exports. Record result for seaport-hinterland rail transport Ingo Egloff and Axel Mattern, Port of Hamburg Marketing’s Joint CEOs, declared at the Port of Hamburg’s Annual Press Conference that seaborne cargo throughput in the universal Port of Hamburg has stabilized and there is an obvious upward trend. In strong competition with the other main ports in Northern Europe, Hamburg can claim an especially positive trend in seaport-hinterland services. Against the trend for lower volumes on rail freight traffic in Germany, at 46.4 million tons the volume transported into/out of the Port of Hamburg was 1.5 percent higher. The number of containers transported by rail climbed by 2.4 percent to 2.4 million TEU. In the Port of Hamburg’s modal split, rail further increased its share of containers transported from 41.6 percent to 42.3 percent. Linking Hamburg with all hinterland economic centres, more than 200 freight trains reach or leave Europe’s largest rail port every day. “In a comparison with ports in Europe, the highest number of connections and the great frequency of train departures to/from Hamburg are very advantageous in offering shippers in industry and commerce rapid handling of their export and import cargoes,’ said Egloff.
Elbe fairway adjustment is coming To continue expanding the Port of Hamburg in its multitude of functions and to keep it competitive, modernization and expansion of an efficient infrastructure for freight transport by rail, truck, inland waterway or oceangoing ship is of crucial importance. ‘With its judgement on 9 February, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig expressly underlined the necessity of the fairway adjustment,’ said Jens Meier, CEO of Hamburg Port Authority (HPA). Fairway adjustment is coming. Now the task is to extend the legal process. ‘We shall now be concentrating on clarifying the questions about possible fluctuations in the salinity of the Elbe and on attending to demands for additional compensatory areas within the framework of what is compatible with legislation on protecting habitats.’
The project group responsible will be urgently working on this, yet it is too early just now to make a firm statement on the time framework required. The Federal Administrative Court made clear in its judgement that no deficiencies are evident in the entire planning process and that the objections by environmental groups in respect of hydraulic construction measures are unfounded. The European water directive has also been observed. Only the protection of one plant species, the ‘Hemlock Water Dropwort’ and the designation of compensatory areas require improvement, and then the measure should be implemented. ‘So it is clear that fairway adjustment is coming, but we regret the loss of more time in implementing the measure. The essential point is that for shipping on the Elbe and operations in the Port of Hamburg, nothing changes. We have proved able until now to handle the largest containerships, and that will remain so in future. No deterioration will therefore be occurring,’ stressed Egloff.