Throughput of liquid bulk at port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, increased by 15.4% in the first half of this year.
The relatively low oil price resulted in a build-up of stock but, at the same time, was largely responsible for refineries having considerable margins. This caused the capacity utilisation rate of the refineries to be fairly high, for which large amounts of crude oil were imported. Consequently, the volume of crude oil rose significantly (+8.3%).
As substantially more oil was refined in North West Europe and Russia, there was an oversupply of fuel oil in this part of the world. Coinciding with a period when the price of fuel oil was subject to ‘open arbitrage’, this resulted in exports to the Far East via Rotterdam increasing sizably. Throughput of fuel oil, therefore, rose by 11 million tonnes, an increase of 50%. Rotterdam is a turntable for oil products and profits from these imbalances and fluctuations in the market. The import of gas oil and diesel rose slightly while marginally less petrol was exported. In total, the throughput of oil products was 29.7% higher than last year.
Just over the border in Belgium, port of Antwerp saw liquid bulk volumes rise during the past six months by 7.4% to nearly 33 million tonnes. Handling of oil derivatives did well, up 2.8% to 23 million tonnes, but chemicals saw the biggest growth, rising by 32% to 7.2 million tonnes.
Meanwhile, Antwerp Port Authority has issued a request for proposals to build and operate an LNG bunkering and filling facility.
The port wants barges to be able fill up with LNG at a permanent facility by the beginning of 2019 at the latest. Truck-to-ship bunkering is already possible, but the port wishes to augment the availability by setting up a permanent station. Antwerp says the exhaust from a vessel driven by LNG contains hardly any particulates, and emissions of NOx are also drastically reduced.
Since 2012, LNG has been collected by truck at an import terminal in Zeebrugge and brought to the quayside in Antwerp from where it can be filled directly into a barge. Building a permanent facility will make LNG available in Antwerp on a continuous basis. So, the port of Antwerp is now looking to offer a build/operate concession on quay 528.