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Port of Rotterdam

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Port of Rotterdam is located in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The high importance of this port is indisputable. It is the largest port in Europe and one of the busiest ports in the world. It used to be the busiest port in the world since 1962 until 2004 but now this title was overtaken first by Shanghai and then by Singapore. Rotterdam until 2009 also appeared on the list of ten world-largest container ports in terms of TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) handled. The size of the Port of Rotterdam amounts to 105 square kilometres and the length stretches to 40 kilometres. The port gives access to approximately 500 million consumers from different countries all over Europe. This paper has the aim of looking closer at some aspects concerning the Port of Rotterdam. Right after the introduction chapter, I would like to mention some historical facts about the port and area in which it is situated. In the following part I will present a few facts and figures regarding the Port of Rotterdam.

The next chapter will be devoted to means of transport available from the port and possibilities of conveying goods depending on their final destination. After that the description of cargo types in the Port of Rotterdam will be made in the chapter ‘Characteristics’ together with mentioning some main industries for this city. The tasks, aims and specifics of the Port of Rotterdam Authority will be described in the following section. After that some possible changes and plans of development of the Port of Rotterdam will be featured and at the end a short conclusion will be made.

The Ports of Rotterdam history goes back to the 14th century. The port developed together with the city of Rotterdam, which turned from a small town into a major harbour city. Before 19th century, docks were built on the bank of the Nieuve Maas river. Because of the uncomfortable way into the port, with many small waterways in the delta estuary, the Rotterdam Port had in the 19th century weak connections with the North Sea. It took several days or even more for ships to go around the island of Voorne-Putten and go out to the sea. In the first half of the 20th century, to improve the linkage with the North Sea, an idea of building a large canal came up. It was designed to connect the Rhine and Meuse rivers to the sea and first it was supposed to be partly dug and the natural flow of the water was to deepen the canal bed. Finally however the constructors had to dig the last part as well.

The Nieuve Waterweg (‘New Waterway’), because that is the name given to the canal, provided the Port of Rotterdam with a direct connection with the Northern Sea and it was deep enough for the ships to go through. The creation of the canal was finished in 1872 with all sorts of industrial activities formed on its banks. Since the building of the Nieve Waterweg, it has been deepened several times. Thanks to the construction of the canal, the port became busier, it had a possibility to receive and send products to a wider variety of countries. The further development consisted in building new docks and harbour-basins, mostly in the direction of the sea. The area of the harbour in Rotterdam has been enlarged by building the Europoort (gate to Europe) compex along the estuary of the Nieuve Waterweg canal. It is a very heavily industrialized territory, which extends the port seawards. Even bigger enlargement was made in the 1970s, when Maasvlakte (Meuse-plain) was completed. It is a part of Europoort, which was built in the North Sea near Hoek van Holland with the sand taken mostly from the bottom of the sea. By the construction of Maasvlakte, the lake Oostvoorne was created. Before the construction, it was a sandbank, where it was risky to ship. In the past five years a large number of wind turbines using the location and profitable in this case exposed coastal conditions has been added.

A second Maasvlakte was supposed to be created because the project was approved in 2004 but the Dutch Council of State decided that the plans did not take the environmental issues into account and stopped the construction. The construction acquired an approval again in 2006 though, and the first ship is aimed to be anchored in 2013.

Facts and figures
Rotterdam is one of the main ports and the largest logistic and industrial centres of Europe. The port is the gateway to customers from countries in the whole Europe. It may be called a hinterland of more than 150 million consumers within the distance of 500 kilometres and 500 million consumers all over the continent. This gives a gigantic market, on which the buying power amounts to 600 billion dollars. The annual throughput of cargo in 2010 came up to 430 million tons, which gives Rotterdam the first place on the list of largest seaports in Europe. Thanks to the ports excellent position, with access to the sea, as well as to many countries in Europe via road, rail, inland shipping, coastal shipping and pipeline, it is also one of the most important junctions of good flows in the world. All major industrial and economic centres in Western Europe are possible to reach within less than 24 hours from Rotterdam. So the product which come to this port in the morning can reach their destination in such important countries as Germany, Belgium, France or Great Britain on the same afternoon.

The Port of Rotterdam stretches out over 40 kilometres and without Maasvlakte 2, which is currently built, it occupies a territory of about 10.500 ha. Of this area 5.000 ha is occupied by commercial sites, 3.500 ha by water and the remaining 2.000 ha by roads or railways, service corridors and greenery. It is not only a hub for the international flow of goods, but also a world class industrial complex. There is a large amount of companies and organisations active in the port and industrial complex. It gives a large number of working places for people from Holland, as well as for foreigners. In 2006 about 86.500 persons were directly employed in the port and complex. As for the shipping, approximately 33.000 vessels per year go out to the sea from the Port of Rotterdam and about 110.000 vessels per year are destined to inland shipping.

The location of Rotterdam on the estuary of the rivers Rhine and Maas is one of the main advantages of the port and one of the most important issues which make it so busy. Thanks to that it is possible to reach countries that are deeper inside Europe in an efficient and economical way, which is inland vessel. Also a new double track freight railway, called Betuwe route was built to link Rotterdam directly with Germany. It is a 160-kilometre long rail route, which is part of a project TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Networks). It makes it easier and faster to transport goods to Germany. There is also a possibility to use feeder and short-sea ships from the Port of Rotterdam, which departure several times a day, to reach more than 200 European ports. Importance of this alternative way of transportation is increasing due to the fact that Europe’s roads may be really busy and the short-sea or feeder ship allows to transport a larger amount of products in a short time. The other mean of transport, which is really useful, mostly for bulk chemicals, crude oil and oil products is the pipeline. Rotterdam has direct links with the major industrial centres elsewhere in Northwest Europe. Although the means of transport mentioned above are getting more important, when it comes to short-distance and door-to-door delivery, the truck remains indispensable.

Petrochemical industry and general cargo transhipment handlings are the most important for the Port of Rotterdam. The main function of the harbour is the transit point for transport of bulk and other goods. The share of Rotterdam of the petrochemical and energy sector amounts to about 20% of the total production capacity in Northwestern Europe. In 2006 the added value of the port and industrial complex of Rotterdam came up to about 12.3 billion Euro. Cargo

According to the Port Statistics, the total cargo throughput in 2010 amounted to 429.9 million tons, 305.4 million of which was incoming cargo and 124.6 million – outgoing cargo. It was 42.9 million more than in 2009. This amount gave Rotterdam the first position among European countries, followed by Antwerp (Belgium) with 178.2 million tons. On the list of world’s biggest ports, the Port of Rotterdam in 2010 had fourth position after Shanghai (China) with its 650 million tons, Ningbo & Zhoushan (China) – 627 million tons and Singapore (Singapore) – 502.5 million tons.

Dry bulk
Rotterdam is the most important and biggest dry bulk port in Europe. Transshipment, storage, processing and distribution of every type of dry bulk in every quantity is possible in this port thanks to the facilities provided. The dry bulk cargo in the ports statistics (data for 2009) are divided to: * Agribulk – 8.334 million tons, 6.867 of which incoming and 1.467 outgoing * Iron ore and scrap – 23.298 million tons, 20.184 incoming, 3.114 outgoing * Coal- 24.833 million tons, 23.665 incoming, 1.168 outgoing * Other dry bulk – 10.163 million tons, 6.442 incoming, 3.721 outgoing

Liquid bulk
Rotterdam is home port for one of the main oil and chemical centres in the world. Thanks to a strong refinery cluster and synergy between more than 45 chemical concerns, the city boasts an unrivalled industrial cluster. High degree of specialisation in the storage and handling of all kinds of liquid bulk makes it even stronger and causes the fact that a lot of liquid cargo goes through the Port of Rotterdam. In the liquid bulk cargo we can single out (data for 2009): * Crude oil – 96.418 million tons, 95.676 incoming, 742 outgoing * Mineral oil products – 72.190 million tons, 42.241 incoming, 29.949 outgoing * Other liquid bulk – 29.482 million tons, 18.070 incoming, 11.412 outgoing

Considering containers, Rotterdam outstrips the other ports in Europe and is the main container port on this continent. It has over 11 million TEU (Twenty-feet Equivalent Units) a year in containers, while the second one in Europe – Antwerp in Belgium has over 8 million TEU a year. On the list of World’s top container ports, Rotterdam had in 2010 tenth position, having 17.924 million TEU less than the first on the list – Chinese Shanghai. From the 11,145,804 TEU, that go through the Port of Rotterdam, 5,690,442 are incoming and 5,455,362 are outgoing.

Port of Rotterdam Authority
The target of the Port of Rotterdam Authority is to enhance the competitive position of the port as logistics hub and world-class industrial complex. They want to focus not only on the size, but also on the quality. The Authority took on themselves the tasks of developing, managing and running the port in a sustainable way and maintaining a speedy and safe service for shipping. The Port of Rotterdam Authority is a non-listed public limited company and its shares are held in approximately 70% by the Municipality of Rotterdam and in approximately 30% by the Dutch State. The Port Authority consists of 1.200 employees. In 2010 it had turnover of approximately 550 million Euro and the investments amounted to about 445 million Euro. The investments made by the Authority are in the development new port sites, now particularly Maasvlakte 2, as well as in public infrastructure in the port area and in customer-specific infrastructure. Investments in traffic management system, traffic control centres and patrol vessels are also made in order to handle shipping in the most effective way.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority does its best for the port to be accessible by road, rail and water. To achieve this goal, basing on an integrated vision, it works together with all other parties involved. The distinctive character of the port and its sustainability are the most important pillars, which are to help in fulfilling customers’ expectations. The Authority is also trying to make the port even more competitive and attractive. In order to succeed, a few new investments have to be made.

Maasvlakte 2
An increasing number of goods are shipped through the Port of Rotterdam and the amount of companies willing to set up business there also rises. That is the reason why expansion of the port is essential – the existing port and industrial area is quickly becoming not big enough to meet the rising demand and maintain the ports leading role. As I mentioned before, the construction of Maasvlakte 2, a direct extension of the existing Maasvlakte, has already started in 2008 and the first ship is to be anchored in 2013. This area of 1.000 hectares for deep-sea related container transshipment, distribution and chemical industry will have access to all the connections with the European hinterland, which Masvlakte had. Masvlakte 2 will be the only place in the whole Europe, where the largest ships in the world will be able to moor 24 hours a day on the deep waterways. The Port of Rotterdam Authority cares as well for the quality of life and environmental issues.

They assure that the expansion of the port and improvement of life quality go hand in hand. From the beginning of planning on the enlargement of the port, in the Rotterdam Mainport Development Project (PMR) it was taken into account. In this project not only Maasvlakte 2 was included, but also improvement of the Existing Rotterdam Area (ERG) and construction of a 750-hectare recreation area and sites of natural interest. Except from that, a sea bed protection area reservation is to be created and the dune area is to be enlarged.

Port City Waalhaven
A large-scale transformation process shall take place in the decades ahead in Rotterdam’s Waalhaven. The Port of Rotterdam Authority makes the efforts for the development planning to be rational and for the potential future businesses to realise the opportunities offered by Waalhaven. No obstacles should be found in the future transformation and development process. There is a Port City program, which consists of plans to build four office buildings, a parking area, as well as some cafes, sports facilities and art. After looking closely by architects and the Port Authority to all territory of the port, the perfect location has been found. It provides the least obstacles for the future development and the best conditions for top-grade, port-related office activities with an excellent view over the water. The project takes into account numerous basic rules and is supposed to be realised in the possibly most optimal and rational way. A small supervisory team will monitor the work of the architects and the quality of their plans so that all the rules are obeyed and the general idea is kept.

Port Railway line electrified
Preparations of the port railway line for electric locomotives and the increasing in capacity were supposed to start in December 2008. The port railway line was to be equipped with a new European security system ERTMS. It will make the hinterland transport more efficient, as the switching of the locomotives at the border will not be needed. It is very important for the line to be modernized in terms of the port’s accessibility and transport of goods in Europe.

The number of vessels going through the Port of Rotterdam is growing. Even though the volume of traffic on the water around the port is increasing, the number of incidents is falling. That is because the Port Authority is concerned about safety and provides a day and night modern RPA patrol vessels and a high tech Traffic Guidance System. There is also a part of Port Authority – Inspectors of the Harbour Master’s Division, which is in charge of keeping safety and taking care of environmental issues, mostly when dangerous and harmful substances are concerned. In December 2002 the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) was drawn up. It is an international standard for improved security of deepsea ships and port facilities, which all companies are obliged to obey.

Attracting flows of goods and industrial activity – and more than that, being better at this than other ports situated near – is essential for the post to develop. Rotterdam has a competition in the Hamburg-Le Havre (HLH) range. All of these ports have the same target group and destinations – as they are located in a few-hour distance from each other, on the coast, they serve the hinterland of Northwestern Europe. Even though a few of them are major transhipment ports for good-flows from the Scandinavian and Baltic ports, as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland, Rotterdam still takes a very important position in this area, and its importance increases. Concerning the throughput, in different segments the main competitors of the Port of Rotterdam differ. Antwerp and Hamburg are the main competitors in the container segment, Amsterdam – for the coal segment and Le Havre and Wilhelmshaven – for crude oil. As for the industry, mostly for the chemical sector, the competition is worldwide. We can consider Antwerp as the main competitor in Northwestern Europe, but together these two ports form the largest chemical complex in Europe. Their main advantages when it comes to competitive attractiveness are their location on deep water, a lot of space available, world-class terminals, good connections to the hinterlands by roads, inland waterways, railways and pipelines, good service quality, costs and attractive business and living climate.

To conclude, it is worth repeating what we all can see – that the importance of the Port of Rotterdam is really high. It is also one of the most significant ports in the world. Through its development it has the opportunity to draw even nearer to the top of World’s busiest ports list. It is constantly evolving, trying to rise to customers’ expectations. In the next decades there is a good perspective for the port – it’s significance in the world can grow even more.


* http://www.portofrotterdam.com/en/port [19.10.2011]
* http://www.rotterdam.nl/port_of_rotterdam [20.10.2011]
* http://www.rotterdamportinfo.com/ [19.10.2011]
* http://www.portofrotterdam.com/en/Port/port-statistics/Documents/portstatistics_2010_en.pdf [22.10.2011] * http://www.portofrotterdam.com/en/Port/port-development/Pages/sustainable-port.aspx [23.10.2011] * http://www.maasvlakte2.com/en/index/ [23.10.2011]

* http://www.rotterdam.nl/tekst:competition [22.10.2011]
* Port Information Guide
* http://logisticsweek.com/ocean/2011/01/port-of-rotterdam-emerges-stronger-from-crisis/ [21.10.2011]

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