Antwerp’s container traffic grew 4% in 2016 from a year earlier, topping 10 million 20-foot-equivalent units for the first time. The rise to 10.04 million TEUs from 9.65 million TEUs in 2015 would have been higher but for thick mist blanketing the port during the final days of December, which delayed the berthing of some large vessels, according to the port authority, which had previously predicted a 4.2% increase in its provisional figures.
The increase, which consolidates Antwerp’s position as Europe’s second-largest container hub, is widely expected to exceed the yet-to-be published performances of top-ranked Rotterdam and third-placed Hamburg, which have trailed the Belgian port in the past few years. Total traffic grew 2.7% to a record of 214.05 million tonnes (236 million tons) from the previous year’s all-time high of 208.4 million tonnes. Roll-on, roll-off cargo shrank by 1.8% to 4.57 million tonnes with auto traffic slipping 2.8% to just short of 1.9 million units. Conventional breakbulk was down 2% at 9.8 million tonnes as strong growth in steel shipments was offset by lower paper, cellulose, fruit, and non-ferrous metal cargoes. Dry bulk contracted by 9.1% to 12.55 million tonne, due to a 34% slump in coal shipments and 10.5% less iron ore traffic. Liquid bulk volume grew 3.8% to 69.2 million tonnes as a 7% rise in oil derivatives to 51.3 million tonnes more than outweighed a 17.4% slump in crude oil to 3.98 million tonnes.
Antwerp expects more growth in 2017, as the port authority has said the port managed “very well” to achieve a strong position in the sailing schedules of the three alliances - 2M, Ocean Alliance, and Transport High Efficiency Alliance - that will dominate container shipping this year.