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Port of Rotterdam posts lower earnings amid container volume decline

Christian Fernsby |
The volume of total cargo throughput in the port of Rotterdam was 5.5% lower in the first half of the year (220.7 million tonnes) than in the same period in 2022 (233.5 million tonnes).

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The fall was mainly seen in coal throughput, containers and other dry bulk (commodities).

Throughput in the agribulk, iron ore & scrap, and LNG segments increased.

In the first half of the year, the agreements were signed for the expansion at the container terminals in the Prinses Amaliahaven.

This expansion will, in time, result in a potential flow of some 4 million TEUs (standard size for containers).

The Port Authority’s robust financial results put it in a position to continue investing in the transition to cleaner energy and in good accessibility.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority’s financial results were robust in the first half year of 2023.

Revenue, mainly from port dues, and rental and leasehold income, was € 4.3 million higher than in the first half of 2022 at € 416.5 million.

Operating expenses rose by € 10.2 million to € 134.6 million.

As a result, earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation fell by € 5.9 million to € 281.9 million.

The net result was down € 26.1 million at € 116.5 million due to two one-off items.

In the first half of the year, due to the ruling of the Council of State relating to the 25-kilometre restriction, the acquired nitrogen rights (€ 8.0 million) and a Porthos guarantee premium (€ 7.3 million) were written off, with a negative result for participating interests as a result.

Gross investments in the first half of 2023 amounted to € 135.7 million, including capital injections in participating interests (first half of 2022: € 117.1 million).

The main investment in the first half of 2023 was the construction of the Prinses Amaliahaven quay wall (€ 38.3 million).

Throughput in the dry bulk segment fell by 11.7% in the first half year.

Coal throughput fell 14.5% to 12.4 million tonnes, primarily because of low demand for energy coal for power production.

In both the Netherlands and Germany, the main destination for coal, renewable sources such as wind and solar were used more for power production in the past half year.

Throughput in the iron ore & scrap segment was 8.9% higher at 13.0 million tonnes despite low demand for iron ore from the steel mills in Rotterdam’s hinterland.

However, exports of scrap metal increased.

Most scrap metal goes to Turkey, where steel production resumed quickly after the earthquake in February.

The striking fall of 62.8% in the other dry bulk segment is linked to the 54.6% increase in the agribulk segment associated with the correction of an erroneous declaration in the sea port dues system in 2022, with the volumes in the other dry bulk segment being incorrectly declared as agribulk.

Taking this correction into account, the increase in the agribulk segment was 8.5%, mainly due to growth in oil seeds from South America.

After correction, there was also a decrease in the other dry bulk segment, primarily as a consequence of the decline in energy-intensive production, such as steel and aluminium, due to high energy prices.

In the first half of the year, the throughput of liquid bulk fell by 0.6%.

The throughput of crude oil was 1.4% lower at 51.8 million tonnes.

Incoming Russian oil has now been completely replaced by crude oil from the United States, Norway, West Africa and the Middle East.

The throughput of mineral oil products was 1.9% lower in the first half year at 6.2 million tonnes.

The throughput of LNG continued to rise in the first half year, by 9.8% to 5.9 million tonnes.

Most LNG (62%) is imported from the United States.

Container throughput in tonnes was 9.3% down in the first half of the year at 64.4 million tonnes; the fall in TEUs was 8.1% to 6.7 million.

There are two principal reasons for the decline in container throughput: the termination of volumes to and from Russia and the fall in imports from Asia.

However, the reliability of the sailing schedules of container vessels continued to improve in the first half of the year.

This led to an improvement in volume handling at the port and to the hinterland.

Roll-on/roll-off traffic (RoRo) dropped 3.2% to 13.3 million tonnes.

In addition to declining demand due to high inflation and stockpiling, the RoRo segment is also affected by the weak UK economy.

The general cargo segment fell to 3.4 million tonnes (–11.5%).

The main reason is that a lot of general cargo is again being shipped in containers given the low container rates.

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