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Chemical and petroleum product maritime traffic on the up

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The Port of Antwerp set a new freight record last year handling a total volume of 190.8 million t. The traffic volume in 2013 exceeds that of the record year 2008 and is again higher than just before the recession. In the chemicals and petroleum derivatives sectors, Antwerp has gained a significant market share in the liquid bulk sector for northwestern European ports. Liquid bulk traffic in Antwerp rose by 31.4% to 59 493 776 t over the past 12 months.

International storage and distribution
The petroleum derivatives segment, with products such as petrol, diesel, domestic heating oil and kerosene, achieved the highest growth, with 43.1 million t of maritime traffic. Since 2000, Port of Antwerp has recorded 213% growth in this segment, making it the fastest grower in the Antwerp/Rotterdam/Amsterdam range (ARA range) for these products.

Sea-Tank Terminals of Belgium managed to attract several global energy companies and traders and expanded its storage terminal capacity. The substantial investments made by Antwerp Terminal Processing Company in the expansion of their tank storage, combined with the deepening of the maritime access by the Port Authority also contributed to the growth in this segment.

Maritime traffic of crude oil recorded a 83.4% increase following the take over and relaunch of the PetroPlus refinery under the name of IBR by Gunvor. Also, various Antwerp industrial players have continued to expand their production and companies such as Total, Kuwait Petroleum International and BP Lubes have announced major investments. The ExxonMobil refinery is also currently examining plans for further investment in their Antwerp plant.

Strong petrochemical industry cluster
The Antwerp chemical industry is one of the major chemical clusters in the world, and companies like BASF, Ineos Oxide and Evonick all reported significant investments in 2013. With the associated increase in tanks storage capacity for chemicals, this will further strengthen Antwerp’s market position in Europe in the field of chemical logistics. The maritime bulk chemical cargo registered in 2013 a leap forward close to 10% versus the traffic realised in 2012, to above 11 Mio t.

Chemical products increased by 205% versus 2000 levels so it is no wonder that the Antwerp Port area is worldwide one of the most specialised Port area’s for value added logistics for chemicals.

As Europe’s biggest ethylene producer, Antwerp is connected to the ARG network, the ethylene pipeline network that connects the Belgian, Dutch and German chemical industries. The INEOS group chose Antwerp as the most suitable location for their investment in a new European ethylene storage site.

Key assets
The fact that the port is home to Europe’s largest petrochemical cluster implies that a large volume of base cargo is present, which draws other players. However, the port has a number of other key assets;

  • Geographical location: 80 km inland, in the heart of Europe’s consumer market.
  • Access: It accommodates the largest container ships, largest gas tankers, tankers and parcel tankers.
  • Market leader in Europe in regular container line services to the US, South America, Africa, India and the Middle East.
  • Hinterland: Efficient connections to the European hinterland, via road, rail, inland waterways, short sea shipping and pipelines.

Adapted from press release by Claira Lloyd

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