Seaborne cargo throughput in Hamburg was stable Y-o-Y at 136.5 million tons
At 136.5 million tons, in 2017 seaborne cargo throughput in Hamburg, comprising general and bulk cargoes, was stable at a high level. According to the port, a slight downturn occurred in handling of containerized general cargo at 8.8 million TEU (20-ft standard containers), being one percent lower. At 44.7 million tons, the bulk cargo total was at the previous year’s level.
On container throughput, developments in 2017 varied. Throughput of loaded boxes was unchanged at 7.6 million TEU, whereas for empty boxes we have to report a downturn of 88,000 TEU to 1.2 million TEU. Against the background of the still outstanding fairway adjustment on the Elbe, and the economic sanctions still in force on trade with Russia that is of such significance for the Port of Hamburg, the result in the container segment is in line with our expectations,” explained Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Port of Hamburg Marketing. He gave the still outstanding adjustment of the Elbe fairway as one reason for the downturn in empty box throughput. In Port of Hamburg Marketing’s view, the restrictions in force on the Elbe and the narrow ‘tidal window’ are causing shipowners to use available transport space on their mega-containerships primarily to shift loaded boxes. Empty containers are increasingly being routed via other ports in Northern Europe. Of the big container ports there, Hamburg handles the lowest proportion of empty containers at 13.0 percent of the total, and the highest proportion of loaded boxes at 87 percent. “Once the fairway adjustment has been completed, we shall be able to handle substantially more containers and bulk cargo in Hamburg. Terminals and other port facilities are well prepared for growth. Increased draft on the Elbe and simplification of manoeuvring by the construction of a passing zone on the Elbe downstream from Hamburg will facilitate more efficient use of hold capacities and crucially simplify passing for ultra-large vessels,” added HHM Executive Board colleague Ingo Egloff.
The Port of Hamburg’s marketing organisation also pointed out a further increase in average containership size. Since the first calls in the port by vessels with a slot capacity of over 18,000 TEU, the total number of these has tripled. In 2017 Hamburg alone received 102 calls by ULCVs in the size bracket 18,000 to 20,000+ TEU, a rise of 52.2 percent. In March the “CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery”, with a slot capacity of 20,776 TEU, the largest-ever containership is expected to call in Hamburg for the first time.
For the handling segment bulk cargoes, comprising grab, suction and liquid cargoes and contributing one-third to the Port of Hamburg’s result, trends on imports and exports differed. A slight downturn was evident in imports, down one percent at 33.1 million tons. At 11.6 million tons, by contrast exports of these were slightly higher (up 1.1 percent).
2017 brought a record result for the grab cargoes segment, with the total 7.0 percent higher at 23.5 million tons. Imports at 19.6 million tons (+5.8 percent) benefited once again from a strong tailwind. At 7.8 million tons (up 5.7 percent), imports of coal set a fresh throughput record. At 10.1 million tons (up 6.8 percent), ore imports were at the highest level of the past decade. Exports of grab cargoes, 13.0 percent ahead at 4.0 million tons, performed even more strongly. At 4.0 million tons (down 5.6 percent) imports of suction cargoes (Agribulk) were weaker than in the previous year. Exports at 3.4 million tons (down 21.8 percent) were also weaker. This was mainly attributable to the drop in the volume of wheat exports. Totalling 9.5 million tons (down 11.9 percent), imports of liquid cargoessuch as oil products, fell. By contrast, strong growth was reported for exports, which were 17.7 percent higher at 4.2 million tons.
Following the end of operations at Buss Hansa Terminals, throughput of conventional general cargo, at 1.4 million tons (down 6.0 percent) was lower than in the previous year, as expected. This segment covers large plant elements, heavy cargo and vehicle shipments.