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Swiss Rhine Ports: Handling Statistics 1st Quarter 2021 – Cargo Handling At Previous Year’s Level

Swiss Rhine ports: Handling statistics 1st quarter 2021 – Cargo handling at previous year’s level

Source: PortSEurope
At a good 1.25 million t, the cargo throughput in the Swiss Rhine ports in the first quarter of 2021 is roughly at the level of the corresponding period of the previous year (1.29 million t). Imports of mineral oil products are falling slightly, while those of food and animal feed are increasing. At over 27,000 TEU, the container segment remained a good 5% below the value
of the comparable quarter – May 3, 2021 1,256,220 t were handled in the first quarter of 2021, 1,294,040 t in the same period of the previous year. This corresponds to a decrease of 2.9%. Export traffic recorded an increase of 2.4% to 214,870 t, while import traffic, which dominates in terms of volume, decreased by 3.9% to a total of 1,041,350 t compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The development in the individual ports was different. In the Auhafen Muttenz, with a focus on mineral oil and solid bulk goods, a total of almost 435,000 t recorded an increase of 8.2%. In the meantime, handling in the port of Birsfelden decreased by 15% to 400,000 t, while in Kleinhüningen, at just under 344,000 t, it remained at the previous year’s level (+ 0.5%). In the container sector, 27,309 TEU were handled on the water side in the first quarter of 2021. Compared to the same period in the previous year (28,835 TEU), this means a slight decrease of 5.3%. Container traffic If one compares the individual months with the months of the previous year, January (9,007 TEU) with -14.0% and February (7,920 TEU) with -14.2% were well below expectations. March with 10,382 TEU and (+ 13.9%) could not compensate for this negative development. The good March result is not directly comparable insofar as the result of the comparative month 2020 was strongly influenced by the start of the corona pandemic. For this purpose, some ships in the seaports were delayed at the end of February, so that these quantities were only recorded statistically in March. Delays and postponements in the seaports are a major problem for inland shipping anyway. The arrival times of seagoing vessels are shifting more and more, so that inland vessels, which cannot plan on a daily basis, then have to wait idly in Rotterdam or Antwerp. In the second quarter this problem will be exacerbated by the aftermath of the Suez Canal closure. Another problem during the reporting period was a lack of empty containers in the ports on the Upper Rhine. Above all, this makes it more difficult to carry out transports with relatively little added value (such as wood), since renting out third-party containers does not pay off. This effect can also be seen in the figures for the first quarter: Compared to the same period of the previous year, a good 10% fewer empty containers were brought in (5,141 TEU) and, logically, even fewer (2,360 TEU or -16%) were removed. The shipping companies have noticed this deficiency and are now trying to bring in new empty containers, but this takes some time, whereby the “Suez effect” will reverberate here as well. For full containers, the rather unspectacular development of the last few months of 2020 continued practically unchanged during the reporting period. The export traffic (full, outgoing containers) recorded a decrease of 5% with a total of 9,949 TEU. Compared to the same quarter of 2019, import traffic decreased by 17% to 9,859 TEU. A prognosis for the further course of 2020 is difficult. On the one hand, this depends on the length of time it takes to deal with the Corona crisis and thus the domestic demand in Switzerland and Italy (transit traffic). Furthermore, it remains to be seen how long it will take to dismantle the “traffic jam” in the seaports caused by the Suez blockade. Liquid propellants and fuels In the first quarter of 2021, 548,583 t of liquid fuels were imported via the Swiss Rhine ports. Compared to the 584,035 t in the same period of the previous year, this corresponds to a decrease of 6.1%. The corona effect on this goods sector continues to be diverse. Since global aviation is still severely restricted, the demand for jet fuel also remains very low. The demand for gasoline and diesel is also low due to the home office obligation on the part of employers, which is reflected in a decrease in turnover of around 30%. The handling of heating oil remained constant at 170,000 t. It remains to be seen whether the warehouses will have to be refilled again after the somewhat colder winter 2020/21. Corona can also have surprising effects: hardly any biodiesel is currently being transported. This is mainly produced from deep-frying oil, as is used in the catering trade – and when they have to be closed, there is significantly less deep-frying oil. The removal of mineral oil products has increased massively, but at a low level, namely by 60% to a good 11,000 t. Most of this is heavy fuel oil, which is produced in the domestic refinery. Agricultural products / food and feed Agricultural products closed the first quarter of 2021 with 34,000 tonnes, thanks to very good handling in March, exactly at the previous year’s level. The months of January and February were 40% respectively. 35% below the previous year’s values. The 14-day flood lock in February certainly had an impact on the volume development. Food and feed closed with a plus of 12% respectively. 13,000 tons slightly above the previous year. High market prices in the grain and animal feed sector as well as still high import duties in the grain sector prevent the import of large quantities. Due to the current price structure, only the quantities currently required are imported. The smaller quantities with smaller shipment sizes lead to a higher transport volume by land to Switzerland. In the months from January to March this was around 90,000 t of grain. This development gives cause for concern, since in addition to the fact that the remaining goods are no longer turning, there are still vacancies in the warehouse area to cope with. Other goods While the import and export of products from the iron and steel and non-ferrous metals sector was subject to very strong fluctuations in 2020 , traffic in 2021 has so far been stable. Almost 20,000 t were constantly imported per month in the reporting period. With a total of 61,759 t, this is 10.9% more than in 2020 and 5.9% more than in 2019. Even more remarkable, however, are the exports, which at 22,484 t already exceed the total throughput figures from 2020. Exports in containers make up the lion’s share, as evidenced by the high international demand for specialized Swiss industrial goods. Imports of products from the stone, earth and building materials group started weakly in January with only 29,458 t, but increased by over 50% in each of the following two months to reach 73,371 t in March. Exports have not increased to the same extent. The floods in February in particular prevented exports. At 59,210 t in the first quarter of 2021, exports remained a total of 16.6% below the quantities of the previous year. Chemical products again recorded a small high compared to the same quarter with an export volume of just over 56,000 t. The volume of imports fell by a quarter to just under 33,000 t. Source: Swiss Rhine ports

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