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Loss of Russian cargo sparks Rotterdam container volume decline 

Europe’s largest port has reported a slight increase in total cargo in the first six months of 2022, but the loss of Russian cargo provoked a 4.4% drop in container cargo.

The volume of total cargo throughput in the port of Rotterdam was 0.8% higher in the first half of the year (233.5 million tonnes) than in the same period in 2021 (231.6 million tonnes).Container throughput in H1 fell to 7.3 million TEUs – reflecting a downward trend also recently reported by Antwerp-Bruges, Europe’s second biggest port, where first half box volume declined by 6.2%.

In many segments, the war in Ukraine led to significant changes, the Rotterdam Port Authority said. For example, imports of both LNG and coal rose very sharply as an alternative to reduced European imports of Russian gas by pipeline. The throughput of crude oil increased, with oil products falling off. Throughput of iron ore, agricultural bulk and containers was lower than in the same period last year.

Container transport to and from Russia has come to a halt, and persistent bottlenecks in global container logistics caused cargo to shift from large to smaller container ports. In anticipation of the sanctions on coal and oil, less Russian coal, crude oil, oil products and LNG were imported in recent months. Companies are increasingly importing from other countries.

The Port was not optimistic for the rest of the year, indicating that with high energy prices fueling a sharp rise in inflation “a recession may follow. This makes forecasting throughput volumes for the second half of the year very difficult.” (Port of Rotterdam photo by Kees Torn)