Coronavirus update: Cargo transhipment in North Sea Port falls by more than 11% in first half of year

Published on Wed 8 Jul 2020
North Sea Port recorded 32.4 million tonnes of seaborne cargo transhipment in the first half of 2020, a decrease of 11.5%. As expected, the coronavirus crisis only really made itself felt in the second quarter. The transhipment of bulk goods was particularly affected.

Whereas 36.6 million tonnes were transhipped to and from seagoing vessels in the first six months of last year, the figure was 4.2 million tonnes down for the same period this year. It is, however, true that the first half of 2019 was the best ever.

All sectors down, container transhipment up

The declining figures were seen across all sectors, with the exception of containers. Liquid bulk fell by 17.3% (1.8 million tonnes), dry bulk by 7.2% (1.3 million tonnes), ro/ro experienced a decline of 29% (0.5 million tonnes) and breakbulk decreased by 13% (0.7 million tonnes). The losses are thus particularly striking in the transhipment of bulk goods.

However, container transhipment increased by 5.4%. The growth in container transhipment continues. This reflects the fact that a number of companies in North Sea Port have been able to attract new services over the past three years, in some cases scheduled services, giving the port a sustained boost.

Second quarter impact felt

The impact of the coronavirus crisis was felt particularly in the second quarter, with quarterly figures of 15.6 million tonnes compared to 18.7 million tonnes in 2019. This represents a drop of 3.1 million tonnes or 16.4%. The first quarter of this year saw a fall of 6.6%.

Inland navigation

For inland navigation, North Sea Port recorded a total of 28 million tonnes of cargo transhipment in the first six months of this year, compared to 29.5 million tonnes in 2019. This represents a fall of 5% (1.5 million tonnes).

Inland navigation has held up better than seaborne shipping in terms of cargo transhipment. This is mainly due to a better first quarter, during which an additional 4.2% cargo throughput was achieved compared to 2019 (0.6 million tonnes). The second quarter, by contrast, witnessed a decline of 14% (2.1 million tonnes). The losses were seen in the same sectors as in maritime shipping. This is a natural consequence of North Sea Port being a transhipment centre between seaborne and inland shipping.

The future

The coronavirus crisis halted the previous steady growth of North Sea Port and has severely impacted on cargo transhipment. However, the cross-border port is looking forward to a slight recovery in cargo traffic by sea and inland waterway towards the end of the year.