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 19 February the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) published its Position Paper on the European Green Deal objectives in ports.
The publication of this position paper fits into the European Shipping Week (ESW), taking place in Brussels from 17 February. In the framework of the ESW, ESPO and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) organised on 19 February a workshop on Decarbonising the shipping industry: What’s already happening and how can we help accelerate it?
The Executive Summary of the ESPO Position Paper reads as follows:
Following reports received regarding the impacts on the shipping industry of the sudden and rapid outbreak of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), IMO issued a Circular Letter* on 19 February advising Member States and others on implementation and enforcement of relevant IMO Instruments.
The letter urges Flag State authorities, port State authorities and control regimes, companies and ship masters to cooperate, in the current context of the outbreak, to ensure that, where appropriate, passengers can be embarked and disembarked, cargo operations can occur, ships can enter and depart ship yards for repair and survey, stores and supplies can be loaded, certificates can be issued and crews can be exchanged.
The principles of avoiding unnecessary restrictions or delay on port entry to ships, persons and property on board are contained in articles I and V and section 6 of the annex to IMO’s Facilitation Convention.
IMO will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide additional information as and when appropriate.