North Sea Port records decline in cargo throughput in first quarter of 2024

Published on Wed 17 Apr 2024
Seaborne cargo transhipment at North Sea Port fell by 3.2% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2023. The decrease was seen mainly in dry bulk throughput. Transhipment via inland waterways did experience growth.

Over the first three months of this year, the North Sea Port companies recorded a cargo throughput volume of 16.4 million tons. That is 500,000 tons less than in the same period in 2023 (-3.2%).

Dry bulk down, liquid bulk up

Dry bulk handling declined by 6.4% (-0.6 million tons), with falls seen in oilseeds, iron ore and scrap. Minerals and fertilisers did increase. However, it is worth noting that 2022 and 2023 had seen strong dry bulk figures, caused by the building of buffers as a result of the Ukraine war, among other factors. With this 'buffer urge' subsiding, volumes are back to pre-pandemic levels.

Liquid bulk did witness a turnaround: modest growth of 2.8% (+0.1 million tons) in goods including chemicals and fertilisers.

Container throughput declined by 26.3%. That is a lot in percentage terms, but in absolute terms it only represents a difference of 0.1 million tons (-18,000 TEUs).

General cargo handling remained at the same level (+1.6% or + 40,000 tons).

In 2023, trade with Russia declined by a further 42% due to EU sanctions, falling by a further 18% in the first quarter.

Growth in inland navigation

Cargo throughput via the inland waterways did show growth during the first quarter of 2024: +3.9% (+0.6 million tons), making a total of 15.9 million tons. The increase was largely accounted for by liquid bulk (+8.3%, +0.6 million tons). Dry bulk remained more or less steady (-1.1%, -0.1 million tons).


The first quarter of this year is in line with the previous three quarters, in which cargo throughput increased each time. It is expected that this could continue for another two quarters, with a slight recovery towards the end of the year.