Port of Rotterdam Says War and Economy Reshaped Business in 2022

port of Rotterdam
Rotterdam reported a significant change in its business in 2022, reflecting the war and economy (file photo)

Posted on October 21, 2022 at 6:40 pm by

The Maritime Executive

Providing new evidence on the toll the war in Ukraine is taking on the shipping sector, the Port of Rotterdam released its nine-month results, highlighting dramatic changes to its business. The war and resulting sanctions on Russia, changes in the energy market and the slowing impact of consumer demand on container shipments have all contributed to the changes the port is experiencing in 2022. Europe’s busiest port and one of the busiest world’s busiest, Rotterdam has historically been a hub for transshipments as well as for the energy industry.


The Port of Rotterdam Authority reports that while freight volume was essentially flat year-on-year in the first nine months of 2022, there are some important underlying differences in port traffic and operations. Furthermore, they note with the expectation that the war will continue and the current global economic outlook, that conditions do not improve in the short term.


“The total volume makes everything look normal in the port, but the big changes, especially with regard to LNG and coal, indicate that the energy landscape has changed dramatically,” said Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam. Authority. With high energy prices, the energy-intensive chemical industry in particular is having a hard time. A faster energy transition makes us less dependent on long-term geopolitical developments. In the short term, we have to do everything possible to maintain the chemical industry that is so important to our society.”


As a consequence of the sanctions, the port authority points out that container traffic between Russia and Rotterdam has almost stopped, compared to 8% of total traffic in the past. Also, partly impacted by delayed ships due to global congestion and terminal delays due to high capacity utilization, Rotterdam reports that it has seen an overall decline of over four percent in TEUs or nearly nine percent by weight.


The production of iron and scrap fell sharply (-17.9%), as well as that of agro-bulk (-14.8%). Other bulk, such as raw materials and construction materials, however, rose sharply (+22.6%), as well as strong increases in roll-on/roll-off traffic and other break bulk (15%).


The biggest changes, however, came in loads related to energy markets. The volume of coal, for example, increased by almost a quarter, mainly because more coal was used in power plants. LNG volume growth was very strong (+73.8%), as imports from the United States and other countries grew to replace Russian natural gas, which was previously channeled to northwest Europe. Crude oil volumes also increased by more than five percent.


Commenting on the outlook, the Port Authority noted the weaknesses present in the macroeconomic climate, along with the likelihood of a continuation of the war in Ukraine, inflation and a deteriorating economic climate. “However, the Port of Rotterdam Authority expects the transshipment volume for 2022 to be at the same level as last year. Given the highly challenging circumstances in almost all sectors, this would be a remarkable performance from the Rotterdam business community.”

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