Container throughput is down 9.8% in tonnes and 6.2% in TEU compared to a strong first half in 2021. With globally disrupted container liner shipping, vessel delays, and high volumes of import cargo, the container trade continues to face operational challenges. Moreover, the throughput of containers related to Russia decreased by 39% due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Conventional general cargo grew strongly by 22% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2021 and recorded the highest throughput volume since 2011. The main reason for this is the increase in imports of steel, the most important cargo group in this segment. Steel imports from Russia banned by sanctions are being replaced by imports from other countries. Other product groups, such as wood, plywood, and fruit, are also showing growth.
Roll-on/roll-off traffic saw an increase of 8.9%. RoRo traffic to the United Kingdom and Ireland shows significant growth, with 3.8 million tonnes and 0.6 million tonnes respectively, up 6.8% and 47% compared with the first six months of 2021. The number of new and used cars shows a slight growth of 2.5% and 1.7%, while the number of trucks decreased by 19%.
The dry bulk segment grew by 17.6%. Fertilizers, after a strong 2021, experienced a loss in throughput (-15.4%), largely due to the sanctions imposed on Russia. The throughput of sand, gravel, non-ferrous ores, and scrap metal also recorded losses after 6 months. While only 933,000 tonnes of coal were handled in 2021, throughput after 6 months in 2022 is already 1.56 million tonnes due to the sharp increase in gas prices and reduced gas supplies from Russia.
Within the liquid bulk segment (+16.5%), there is pronounced growth in gasoline, naphtha, and energy gases. Although the throughput of diesel and fuel oil has been steadily declining since 2019, it grew by 10,4% in the first 6 months of this year. Throughput of other oil derivatives and chemicals also grew by 9.9% and 12,3% respectively. With a throughput of 8.4 million tons, the most important growth is for LNG (+55.3%), because, in addition to the transshipment function of the LNG terminal, European countries are now also busy replenishing gas stocks in the run-up to next winter.
"Despite a difficult geopolitical and macro-economic context, this unified port is standing as the economic engine of Flanders. This is proven by the growth compared to the same period last year in cargo handling, roll-on/roll-off traffic, dry and liquid bulk, and the particularly strong increase in conventional general cargo (21.8%) with even the highest throughput volume in 10 years. This compensates for the decline in container handling. At the same time, these figures make it clear that additional container capacity and investments in strategic infrastructure are indispensable to secure our position as a world port," said Annick De Ridder, Vice-Mayor of the City of Antwerp and President of the board of directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges.