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Port of Rotterdam breaks annual container volume record

The port of Rotterdam has achieved the highest container throughput in its history, handling 15.3 million TEUs in 2021.

A major reason for this 6.6% container increase compared to 2020, according to the Rotterdam port authority, is that the pandemic resulted in proportionally higher spending on goods than on services.

However, the Dutch port saw 10% fewer vessels compared to 2020 figures due to the global disruptions of supply chain and container logistics, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Factories and container terminals, particularly in China, were shut down more than once to reduce the number of infections and as a result, vessels, which already had more cargo to transport, regularly failed to arrive on time. In turn, containers were often left standing longer at terminals and so container sidings were very full.

"As a sequence, shipping companies decided to call at fewer ports and to load and unload more containers at each port to save time," said the port of Rotterdam in its statement.

The port of Rotterdam authority believes that container logistics worldwide will continue to suffer in 2022 from the same problems, despite the fact container shipping companies are building newbuildings. "Many of them will not be in service until 2023," noted the port authority, which, last year, started on the construction of new quays for container terminals on Maasvlakte 2.

In time, this will provide an additional throughput capacity of approximately 5 million TEUs. The opening of the Container Exchange Route between the various terminals on the Maasvlakte is expected to enhance efficiency, while the Theemsweg route, which went into service last year, is a major improvement for the 90 to 100 freight trains that use the port railway line daily.

Regarding the total throughput in the port of Rotterdam in the previous year, it matched the pre-pandemic level of 2019, while an increase in revenue and lower costs led to an operating result before interest, depreciation and taxes of approximately US$570 million.

Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, commented, "In terms of throughput volume, the port is back to its pre-corona level. Companies in the container sector, in particular, performed excellently, handling a record number of containers despite all the problems this sector faced worldwide last year. We are now investing in the construction of additional terminal capacity on the Maasvlakte to further facilitate the container sector. I am also optimistic in other respects."

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