Port of Hamburg’s Cargo Volumes Slightly Down in 1H

Germany’s Port of Hamburg saw a 0.2 percent decrease in seaborne cargo throughput which totaled 70 million tons in the first six months of 2017, compared to 70.2 million tons recorded in the same period a year earlier. 

The port’s seaborne cargo exports, including both general and bulk cargo segments, totaled 30.3 million tons in 1H 2017, a rise of 1.3 percent compared to 29.9 million tons seen in the six-month period of 2016.

What is more, the port’s seaborne cargo imports stood at 39.7 million tons in the first half of 2017, a drop of 1.4 percent compared to 40.3 million tons reported in 1H 2016.

With bulk cargo handling in Hamburg totaling 23.5 million tons and being up by 1 percent in the first half, trends for imports and exports differed, the port said. On the import side, the first-half total of 16.8 million tons meant a 1.3 percent downturn. When it comes to exports, bulk cargo throughput was strong at 6.7 million tons, up by 7.4 percent.

First-half non-containerized general cargo throughput was 720,000 tons and remained below the previous year’s, being down 11.7 percent.

“In the first half of 2017, the Port of Hamburg generally succeeded in asserting itself in a difficult environment, producing a stable result compared to other German ports in the North Range,” Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing, commented.

During the first six months of 2017, container throughput amounted to 4.45 million TEU and was at the previous year’s level.

Mattern stressed that container volumes in Hamburg are based on a very differing throughput trend for Hamburg’s two major container terminal operators in the first half.

“Here one company was able to profit considerably better than the other from the very extensive changes so far implemented on container liner services. These caused shifts in market shares in Hamburg. Alterations in shipping company alliances and schedules often make an impact on throughput volumes and container terminal utilization in the ports. In addition, fresh container handling capacities in the Western ports being put on the market for the first time cause volume increases as they come on stream, and then at the expense of other ports make a one-time impact reflected in their first-half results,” Mattern added.

Other factors, however, also had an influence on the volume trend for Hamburg’s container throughput in the first half. For example, the still not implemented adjustment of the navigation channel on Outer and Lower Elbe, as well as delays currently occurring in customs clearance of imports, is causing a noticeable quantity of freight to find its way via other ports in the North Range, as explained by Mattern.

Throughput of loaded boxes was up by 0.3 percent and totaled 3.8 million TEU. In contrast, handling of empty containers was 3.2 percent lower and stood at 622,000 TEU.

“(The fact) that shipping companies tend to route empty boxes for weight reasons via other ports is partly because with the adjustment of the Elbe fairway still not implemented, mega-containerships still cannot be optimally loaded if calling at Hamburg. Once the channel is dredged, mega-ships will be able to bring additional 1,600 and more containers (TEU) to Hamburg and take that many again on departure,” Mattern concluded.

For the full year 2017, the Port of Hamburg’s marketing organization anticipates seaborne cargo throughput to be 138 million tons and container throughput 8.9 million TEU.

Image Courtesy: HMM/Dietmar Hasenpusch

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