May 17, 2020

Port of Rotterdam shows slight increase in throughput

European logistics
Sea Freight
Port of Rotterdam
3 min
Industry Luncheon to be held in New Jersey
Follow @SamJermy and @SupplyChainD on Twitter.Over the last three quarters, the port of Rotterdam handled 0.3 percent more cargo than the same period la...

Follow @SamJermy and @SupplyChainD on Twitter.



Over the last three quarters, the port of Rotterdam handled 0.3 percent more cargo than the same period last year.

Allard Castelein, Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO said: “With the exception of a few sectors, the port is doing pretty well. Particularly striking is the 4 percent increase in containers. After March, even as high as an average 6 percent.

“This makes it even clearer that we badly need the new terminals on Maasvlakte 2 if we are to achieve further growth. The increase of no less than 31 percent in the handling of other mixed cargo is also noteworthy. However mineral oil products in particular, at -11 percent, are considerably down on last year.”

Liquid bulk
Crude oil (+2 percent) is slightly up on the – low – 2013 level. Capacity utilisation at the European refineries is low because demand for some oil products is low and competition on the world market is tough.

Mineral oil products (-11 percent) and other liquid bulk (-9 percent), mainly feedstock’s for the chemical industry, are clearly lagging behind. Causes include the difficult situation of the chemical industry in Europe, lower (re-)exports of heavy fuel oil to the Far East, the limited economic growth in Europe and increasing competition with the coming into operation of new terminals in other ports. LNG throughput is still limited in scale, but has more than doubled (+137 percent).

This mainly concerns gas produced in Scandinavia that finds its way onto the world market via Rotterdam.

Dry bulk
Within the dry bulk sector, less iron ore and scrap were handled (-5 percent) due to maintenance work on a large blast furnace in Germany and a fall in the transhipment volume. Coal throughput is up (+6 percent) because of a shift in incoming cokes coal for blast furnaces in Germany from other ports to Rotterdam, the start-up of new coal-fired power plants in Germany and the testing of the new power plants on the Maasvlakte.

The increase in coal for energy was modified by the generation of renewable energy in the summer months. Agribulk throughput increased sharply (+26 percent), due partly to the rise in imports of soya and exports of wheat. More other dry bulk was handled (+7 percent). This concerns, among other things, materials for the construction industry, raw materials for industry and biomass.

Containers and breakbulk
Container traffic increased (+4 percent), despite congestion on the Maasvlakte this summer, as a result of which a number of ships were diverted to Antwerp. During the first two months of the year, container throughput lagged behind.

Between March and the end of September, however, throughput was on average 6 percent higher than last year. The tentative economic recovery is the main reason for these positive figures. 

Container traffic consists of the deep sea sector (to and from other continents, +6 percent), feeder traffic (the pre-transport and post-transport of deep sea containers, -2 percent) and short sea (departure point and destination within Europe, +4 percent).

There was a slight fall in the handling of cargo from the Far East in the third quarter, partly due to the diversion of ships to Antwerp, whilst cargo to and from North and South America increased. In 2013, Rotterdam lost feeder cargo destined for the Baltic to Hamburg.

This has now largely returned to Rotterdam, due to congestion in Hamburg, but also because shipping companies are switching cargo to Rotterdam in anticipation of the opening of terminals on Maasvlakte 2. The strong British economy is largely responsible for the growth in short sea traffic.

Roll-on/roll-off traffic was also up (+8 percent), thanks to the recovery of the British economy. Other mixed cargo, a sector into which the port puts a lot of effort because it yields relatively high added value, increased very strongly (+31 percent), partly because more steel passed through the port and more cargo for the offshore industry was handled.

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Jun 21, 2021

Elon Musk's Boring Co. planning wider tunnels for freight

2 min
Elon Musk’s tunnelling firm plans underground freight tunnels with shipping containers moved on “battery-powered freight carriers”, according to reports

Elon Musk’s drilling outfit The Boring Company could be shifting its focus towards subterranean freight and logistics solutions, according to reports. 

A Boring Co. pitch deck seen and shared by Bloomberg depicts plans to construct wider tunnels designed to accommodate shipping containers. 

Founded by Tesla CEO Musk in 2016, the company initially stated its mission was to offer safer, faster point-to-point transport for people, particularly in cities plagued by traffic congestion. It also planned longer tunnels to ferry passengers between popular destinations across the US. 

The Boring Co. completed its first commercial project earlier this year in April. The 1.7m tunnel system is designed to move professionals between convention centres in Las Vegas using Tesla EVs. It says the Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop can cut travel time between venues from 45 minutes to just two. 


Boring Co.'s new freight tunnels

The Boring Co.'s new tunnel designs would allow freight to be transported on purpose built platforms, labelled as “battery-powered freight carriers”. The document shows that, though the containers could technically fit within its current 12-foot tunnels, wider tunnels would be more efficient. Designs for a new tunnel, 21 feet in diameter, show that they can comfortably accommodate two containers side-by-side, with a one-foot gap between them.

The Boring Co.’s new drilling machine, dubbed Prufrock, can tunnel at a rate of one mile per week, which is six times faster than its previous machine, and is designed to ‘porpoise’ - mimicking the marine animal by ‘diving’ below ground and reemerging once the tunnel is complete. 

Tesla’s supply chain woes 

Tesla is facing its own supply chain and logistic issues. The EV manufacturer has raised the price of its vehicles, with CEO Musk confirming the incremental hike was a result of “major supply chain pressure”. Musk replied to a disgruntled Twitter user, confused as to why prices were rising while features were being removed from the cars, saying the “raw materials especially” were a big issue. 

Elon Musk Tweet

Car manufacturing continues to be one of the industries hit hardest by a global shortage in semiconductor chips. While China’s chip manufacturing levels hit an all-time high in May, and the US is proposing a 25% tax credit for chip manufacturers, demand still outstrips supply. Automakers including Volkswagen and Audi have again said they expect reduced vehicle output in the next quarter due to a lack of semiconductors, with more factory downtime likely

Top Image credit: The Boring Company / @boringcompany

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