Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
North Sea Port has achieved a new record for the first nine months of this year. With 53 million tons of cargo being transshipped via seagoing vessels, the fusion port could well be on its way to setting a new annual record.
In 2018, transshipment via seagoing vessels at North Sea Port has increased by 8% in comparison with the first nine months of 2017 and amounts to a total of 53 million tons. This is unquestionably a new record and was reported early in October. For the same period in 2017, the total was 49 million tons.
As a result, the port is positioned to achieve its third record-breaking year in a row – if, that is, North Sea Port had existed as a fusion port prior to 1 January 2018. The prospect of achieving the maritime trans-shipment of 70 million tons of goods is on the horizon for the end of the year.
Growth in nearly every segment
The transshipment of dry bulk via seagoing vessels has increased by 5% to 24.3 million tons. The strong construction market is yielding growth in the trans-shipment of sand, gravel and building materials. The transshipment of grain remains at a stable level, as does the transshipment of coal (used primarily in the processing industry). With regard to the latter, North Sea Port is holding its own in a declining market. The transshipment of wet bulk has increased by over 13% to 15.8 million tons. Here, strong growth is evident in the chemical/petrochemical sector (including gas) and the transshipment of bio-diesel. Board-to-board trans-shipment has shown an increase as well.
A 6% rise, primarily in the transshipment of paper and cardboard, bananas, steel sheets, steel constructions and building materials, has resulted in a general cargo figure of 9 million tons.
Container transshipment has increased by 60% to 1.2 million tons as a result of attracting new services and a growth in the number of reefer containers. RoRo remains stable at 2.7 million tons.
The number of seagoing vessels calling at North Sea Port has risen from 6,541 to 7,109, an increase of nearly 9%.
Transshipment via inland shipping is on the rise as well and is fast approaching 45 million tons.
In the third quarter of 2017, maritime transshipment rose by 2.8% (to 17.1 million tons) as compared to the same period in the previous year. As expected, the strong growth recorded in the first six months of 2018 has now diminished.
*North Sea Port, located along both banks of the Western Scheldt from Vlissingen in The Netherlands to Ghent in Belgium, is accessible to global shipping via the North Sea.
The port area of Vlissingen and Borsele is a tidal harbour with direct access to the sea. The port areas of Terneuzen and Ghent are reached via the lock complex at Terneuzen, which lies at the head of the Ghent-Terneuzen canal. This straight and wide canal offers smooth and rapid nautical access to the harbour area of Ghent, at North Sea Port’s southern limit.
The Western Lock in Terneuzen can accommodate ships of up to 92,000 dwt with a maximum length of 265 metres, a width of 37 metres and a draught of 12.50 metres.
By 2020, a new lock will be built that will replace the middle of the three existing locks. In Vlissingen and Borsele, North Sea Port is accessible to ships with a draught of up to 17 metres. The Terneuzen and Ghent port areas are accessible to ships with a maximum draught of 12.5 metres (see illustration accompanying this text).
On 13 November speaking in Tokyo on behalf of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), its Chairman, Esben Poulsson, highlighted serious concerns about the challenge presented by the United States.
In his words: ‘To the proven benefits of multilateralism and the existing global trading order underpinned by a system of international rules and norms which has brought peace and prosperity since World War Two’.
He added: ‘The view that international trade can be seen as some kind of zero sum game is demonstrably false.’
Poulsson acknowledged that the US has legitimate concerns about the policies of some of its trading partners, concerns which to some extent ICS also shares, particularly with regard to China and South Korea’s possible contribution towards overcapacity in shipping.
The IMO regulation that sets out preventive security measures on detecting and deterring threats to ships and port facilities – the ISPS Code* – was the subject of a training workshop that took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 5-9 November.
This workshop was initiated as a means of assistance to potential Designated Authority (DA) and Port Facility Security Officers (PFSOs) to improve their knowledge of how to implement the relevant provisions in the ISPS Code and SOLAS Chapter XI-2. This followed a national maritime security workshop on design and conduct of drills and exercises organized for Trinidad and Tobago by IMO last year, the outcomes of which are being addressed in part by this new workshop.