AMSTERDAM (Reuters): Rotterdam port, Europe’s biggest, said on Friday its cargo volumes rose 1.7% to 442 million tons in 2012, but warned that sluggish economic growth would weigh on volumes next year.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority said it expected growth in cargo volumes of around 2% in 2013 because of the weak state of the Dutch and German economies.
“Throughput is expected to increase slightly faster in the subsequent years, because the economic prospects for 2014 are better and because the current investments in tank storage, container terminals and coal-fired power plants will result in more throughput over time,” the port said in a statement.
Rotterdam Port is a major transit point for commodities including oil and grains and for manufactured goods, as well as the biggest port for iron ore used by the German blast furnaces in the Ruhr region, which supply the German auto industry.
“The positive throughput figures for this year do not alter the fact that the profit margins for many companies are under pressure, some businesses are in the red and some are dismissing staff,” the port’s chief executive, Hans Smits, said in a statement.
Throughput of crude oil rose 6%, reflecting fewer refinery closures for maintenance and increased reliance on three refineries in the Rotterdam port area because of closures elsewhere in Europe.
Throughput of iron ore and scrap fell 12% because of low steel production in Europe, while volumes of grain and oilseed cargoes fell 18% mostly due to high prices and poor harvests in exporting countries such as the U.S.
Coking coal throughput fell 4% on lower demand from power plants with more renewable sources of energy available.
Rotterdam port is undergoing a 3 billion euro ($4 billion) land reclamation project, Maasvlakte 2, to expand its area by 20% to 12,000 hectares.
The first ship will dock at Maasvlakte 2 next year, and full capacity will be reached by 2033.