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Wed 31 Oct 2007 05:05 PM

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Port of Rotterdam chasing milestones

Europe’s primary sea freight terminal has sailed past the 300 million tonnes mark.

Port of Rotterdam chasing milestones

Further confirmation that the international sea freight industry is booming has arrived with the news that Europe's largest terminal has sailed past the 300 million tonnes mark for 2007.

Goods throughput in the Port of Rotterdam increased by 6.2% to 301 million tonnes in the first nine months of the year. Although growth in the first six months was only 4.2%, the ‘300 mark' was passed earlier than ever before, thanks to a sprint in the third quarter.

Throughput was pushed up mainly by the 30% increase in the transhipment of mineral oil products (+10 million tonnes), much of which originates in the Middle East, and an 11% growth in containers handled.

"We'll be passing the 10 million TEU mark this year, as the first non-Asian port to do so. Combined with the boom in oil products, the 400 million mark for total throughput is also within reach. As far as I'm concerned, let the chase begin," said a bullish Hans Smits, Port of Rotterdam CEO.

The continuing strong performance by mineral oil products (+30% to 44 million tonnes) is the result of a worldwide imbalance between demand and supply. This is being restored through refining work at the ports. In comparison with 2006, imports of crude oil are still down (-4%) due to the loss of an unloading pier at the MOT after being hit by a ship.

The handling of containers increased from 70 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2006 to a good 77 million tonnes (+11%). In TEU that equals 8 million, up 13%. The Asia services in particular are responsible for this, with growth figures of 20% or more.

The Port of Rotterdam is still experiencing some bottlenecks in outgoing trade, during peak times. New capacity is already being deployed, or will be very soon, to deal with this. Middle East heavyweight DP World is among the major investors contracted to operate the huge new Maasvlakte 2 terminal, scheduled to be operational in the next few years.

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