Port of Hamburg releases first half results

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port_of_hamburg_1500x1000First-half seaborne cargo throughput of 70.2 million tons reflected stabilisation of the trend for the Port of Hamburg, according to its first half results. At the same time, a steep increase occurred in freight transport by rail to/from the Port of Hamburg.

At 70.2 million tons, in the first half total seaborne cargo throughput, which includes the general and bulk cargo segments, was slightly – 0.9% – down on the previous year. In the first six months of 2016 containerised cargo handling totalled 4.5 million TEU corresponding to a downturn of 1.2%.

“Seaborne cargo throughput in the Port of Hamburg in the first half of the year may have been slightly lower, but the trend was noticeably more stable. With an advance of 1.9 per cent by comparison with the preceding three months, the second quarter of 2016 already signalled a discernible upward trend,” said Axel Mattern, joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing.

This positive trend is also demonstrated by a comparison of the second quarters of 2016 and 2015, which reveals growth of 0.7%. The trend on seaport-hinterland traffic by rail is also very gratifying.

Mr Mattern said: “We have established that in the first half of 2016, the quantity of freight transported ecologically by rail reached 23.8 million tons, representing a real increase advance of 3.9 per cent. Hamburg is further extending its position as the largest rail port in Europe.”

At 4.5 million, TEU in the first six months of the year container throughput was slightly below the previous year’s. Yet the collapse in container traffic with China and Russia reported for last year has meanwhile been almost completely halted. Despite the continuance of foreign trade sanctions, for instance, 216,000 TEU have been transported between the Port of Hamburg and Russia, representing a 2.3% increase.

Container traffic with China also developed more steadily, being just slightly – 1% – below the previous year’s figure at 1.3 million TEU. Also very satisfactory is the growing importance of India, which with 128,000 TEU – up 9.9% – meanwhile occupies eighth position in the ranking of Hamburg’s top trading partners for container handling.

Other positive throughput trends were reported for container traffic with Finland (up 4.3%), the US (up 7.3%), the United Arab Emirates (up 14%) and the United Kingdom (up 13.1%).

The main explanation for the 1.2% fall in total container throughput was the downturn in transhipment services with ports in Poland and Sweden that handled calls from a larger number of direct container services. The downturn in first-half container handling amounted to 5.6% with Scandinavia, and to 5.7% with Poland and the Baltic states.

Bulk cargo throughput in Hamburg for the first half of 23.3 million tons – down 1.4% – saw different trends for imports and exports. On imports, the first-half total of 17.1 million tons represented an advance of 6.7%. On exports, total bulk cargo throughput at 6.2 million tons – down 18.3% – remained well below the previous year’s. Import growth was fuelled by a 25.6% rise in suction cargoes to 2.2 million tons and one of 20.8% to 5.5 million tons in the liquid cargo segment.

Among suction cargoes, imports of oleaginous fruits were 28.8% higher at 1.8 million tons. Of liquid cargoes, imports of oil products stood out with a 65.4% to 5.1 million tons. Apart from the closure of a large major refinery in Hamburg, this was caused by heavier inland demand that boosted imports of oil products. In all, the liquid cargo segment reported a 6.5% upturn to 7.2 million tons. Despite a 1.8 downturn in the first half of 2016, for the Port of Hamburg grab cargoes totalling 11.3 million tons remained the strongest segment in bulk cargo handling. Imports of coal and coke, down by 3.7% at 3.7 million tons, and of ores, down by 6.2% at 5million tons, both failed to reach the previous year’s strong totals. Weaker demand from power stations and the steel industry deserves mention here as the reason for lower throughput.

There are various reasons for the trend in exports of suction and liquid cargoes. Along with harvest-related lower grain exports that were substantially – 34.4% – lower than in the previous year at 2.1 million tons, a downturn also occurred in exports of oil products. The lower throughput figure of 1 million tons – down 36.3% – can primarily be explained by the closure already mentioned of a Hamburg refinery and cessation of exports of oil products from there. On the export side, the grab cargo segment produced an upturn in first-half seaborne cargo throughput. Exports of building materials and scrap along with 1.4 million tons (up 2.5%) of fertilisers combined to produce growth in this segment of 5.8% to 1.9 million tons.

Non-containerised general cargo throughput, of oversize plant elements and roro cargo, for example, remained below the previous first half-year’s at 815,000 tons, down by 6.9%. On the import side, reaching 273,000 tons but 5.6%  lower, growth in the form of wood, project cargo and citrus fruit imports failed to offset downturns for paper, metal and vehicles. On despatches of conventional general cargoes, reportedly 7.6%  lower at 542,000 tons, growth for iron, steel and wood failed to make up for lower vehicle exports.

Ingo Egloff and Axel Mattern, Port of Hamburg Marketing’s joint CEOs, made special mention at the press conference of the excellent development of Hamburg’s seaport-hinterland rail services. During the first half of 2016, a total of 23.8 million tons of freight were transported into and out of the Port of Hamburg by rail, representing an advance of 3.9%. First-half container transport by rail at 1.2 million TEU was also ahead by a substantial 2.1%.

“With agreement for the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan 2030, essential projects for the Port of Hamburg have been included under the heading ‘Priority Needs’. For Hamburg, the largest single project is the Southern link between the A1 and A7 autobahns known as the port lateral motorway. If the port is to continue to be expanded and remain competitive in its numerous functional areas, apart from the development of high-performance access and dispersal corridors for freight transport by rail, truck and inland waterway craft, dredging of the navigation channel on the Lower and Outer Elbe remains essential,” said Ingo Egloff.

The Port of Hamburg is Germany’s largest universal port and guarantees more than 155,000 jobs in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. The port is also a significant industrial location, with total added value of 21.8 billion euros of immense importance for the entire German national economy. For 2016, the Port of Hamburg’s marketing organisation is reckoning with total seaborne cargo throughput of 138 million tons and container throughput of around 9 million TEU. The positive trend was confirmed by the good throughput figure for the second quarter.