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Belgium Shortsea Shipping sets a new record in the Flemish ports with almost 143 million tonnes handled

Date: 11/03/2016

Shortsea Shipping continues to enjoy strong growth. In 2014 the tonnage of the previous record year 2013 has been swept of the tables with almost 6 million tonnes additional cargo handled.

  • With 142,860,448 tonnes, shortsea traffic in the Flemish ports increased in 2013 by just over 4% compared to 2013 (136,890,712 tonnes).
  • The share of shortsea transport in the overall traffic in the Flemish ports amounted to 53.13%.
  • SSS traffic rose in Antwerp, Ghent and Zeebrugge.

In absolute numbers the end of December 2014 was reached with a total of 142,860,448 tonnes of handled shortsea cargo for the 4 ports taken together.

  • With 94,117,446 tonnes shortsea cargo Antwerp claimed the largest share. Compared to 2013 there was a strong increase of 5,104,110 tonnes (+ 5.7%)
  • With 17,475,653 tonnes of shortsea cargo the port of Ghent witnessed a slight growth of 214,216 tonnes (+ 1.2%) compared to 2013.
  • With 29,852,080 tonnes Zeebrugge showed an increase of 3.6% or 1,039,471 tonnes additional cargo handled.
  • The port of Ostend’s shortsea traffic dropped back to 1,415,269 tonnes (-21.5%) of shortsea traffic, because the link to the UK no longer appears in the 2014 figures (as partly it still did In 2013)

The percentage share of shortsea in the total cargo handled (shortsea and deep sea) obviously differs from port to port. Ostend scores almost 100%. Antwerp, situated further inland, has 47.3% of shortsea freight. Ghent and Zeebrugge obtain 67.5 % and 70.2% respectively. The major importance of shortsea shipping for the four Flemish ports is illustrated by its share of no less than 53.13% in the total maritime tonnage handled. Both in tonnage and in percentage it is therefore more important than the deep sea traffic. In the previous record year 2013 it amounted to exactly 52.36%. All this means that shortsea is increasingly embedding itself in our ports.

Patrick Moenaert, chairman: “The record tonnage of 143 million tons and 61% growth since 1999 show that shortsea has become a durable and integral part of Europe’s transport chain”.

The segmentation (in tonnes) according to type of cargo shows that containers represent the largest group, 41%, followed by liquid bulk 30%, dry bulk 14%, ro-ro 11% and mixed cargo 4%.

Compared to 2013 the tonnage of the containers increased by 8%, liquid bulk by 4%  and that of dry bulk 2%. Mixed cargo lost 5%. The ro-ro activities lost slightly (-1%), which can be explained by the already mentioned circumstances in Ostend. Ghent and Zeebrugge showed a growth, Antwerp a slight relapse.

The total teu volume handled in our Flemish ports rose, as far as shortsea is concerned, from 4.8 million (2013) to 5.1 million in 2014.

Shortsea on the canals and inland waterways (sea-river) presents two facets. On the Brussels-Scheldt maritime canal 1,063,229 tonnes of shortsea freight were transported (an increase of 187,095 tonnes or 21.35% compared to 2013). As far as the Albert Canal is concerned, 277,457 tonnes were registered (a drop of 22,695 tonnes or -7.56% compared to 2013). It is striking that on the Brussels-Scheldt maritime canal 83.32% concerns import freight. On the Albert Canal 59% is export cargo.

The sea-river vessels have a distinct advantage: they carry the cargo far inland, often to a loading or unloading facility in the vicinity of the customer.

You can find the overview and the graph here.

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