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Breaking new ground in Antwerp
The company, dedicated to general cargo
DP World Breakbulk is going ahead with a
and project business, has operated in its
current form since May 2008, as a joint
development plan worth €50M
venture of DP World, with a 60% stake,
Rickmers Linie (Germany) and Conti stem the sharp decline it has faced in this as well as ro-ro. Svein Steimler, VP of
Line (Belgium), each with a 20% stake. sector, traditionally one of its strengths. It NYK Europe, stated that the intention is
“We will install five rail-mounted por- demanded greater cooperation from the to concentrate automobile traffic at ICO’s
tal cranes, with a maximum lift capacity unions in this labour-intensive area of other facility at the Bastenaken (Bastogne)
of 100t, at the end of March,” says Marc working, to improve productivity. terminal. No details of the breakbulk plan
Verbaeten, commercial manager. “We are Antwerp may face new competition are available, but obviously the facility is
on the point of completing the phase one from Zeebrugge. Here ICO, the NYK already well-adapted to handle heavy roll-
development, which started in Novem- affiliate, has announced that it is convert- ing loads. For a complete package, how-
ber 2007 and is worth €18.1M out of the ing a car terminal in the northern inlet ever, cranes with at least 100-120t lift ca-
total €50M investment plan. Phase one dock (inner harbour) into a multi-pur- pacity will need to be available. ❏
encompasses new paving, reconstruction pose, breakbulk terminal.
of crane tracks, new lifting equipment and The terminal occupies 590,000 m
Yield turned out better than expected last year
building two more large warehouses.” and is already used for conventional cargo for DP World’s Antwerp breakbulk operations
The first new building will host
project cargo on behalf of General Elec-
tric, a customer since 2005. Pieces can be
stored and secured on elephant foot-
shaped supports. The second one will be
dedicated to steel and general cargo (cases,
machinery, big bags), but the work will
begin only when the economic recovery
is deemed to be steady.
The company is dismantling an older
mobile harbour crane crane that is sur-
plus to requirements. Although the crane
is in good working order, DP World
Breakbulk was unable to find a buyer in
the current market.
Better than expected...
“Last year we logged throughput of
1.35M, 28% down on 2008,” says
Verbaeten. “This was a substantial decline,
although not as bad as we expected and
quite acceptable when we consider that
the Port of Antwerp’s overall conventional
cargo throughput fell by 36%.”
In the past neo-bulks such as iron and
steel products imported from China, In-
dia and Brazil practically “flooded” the
quays. This traffic fell away sharply last year,
but was replaced in part by general cargo,
for which stevedoring is more remunera-
tive, so DP World’s overall yield was re-
duced by only 17%.
“We realised early on that the liner
business had entered a downward phase,
so we focused on providing the best pos-
sible service to our customers,” adds
Verbaeten. Apart from the shareholders
Rickmers and Conti, regular customers
are Chipolbrok, Universal Africa Lines,
Oldendorff Express and BSLE (formerly
Bonyad), for which DP World holds long
term service contracts extending between
three and 10 years. In addition, Cosco,
BBC, Beluga, BigLift, Jumbo Shipping,
CEC-Lines, Combi-Lift and Scan-Trans
call on a regular basis for spot shipments.
DP World Breakbulk operates berths
Nos. 466-484 in the Churchilldok, pro-
viding a total 1165m of linear quay. The
facility has a surface area of 311,000 m
including 60,000 m
of warehousing and
sheds, and has seven rail tracks.
For heavy lift and project cargoes, DP
World can handle single units up to 220t
by pairing two cranes. It has four mobile
harbour cranes, each with a maximum
hook lift of 120t or 140t and five older
but upgraded rail-mounted cranes with a
lifting capacity of 35t.
...not optimistic
Verbaeten is not optimistic about the short
term outlook in 2010. “To be honest, I
don’t see any improvement this year,” he
remarked. “On the business curve the
project cargo is usually about six months
behind the container business and that is
still suffering from the crisis.
“On top of that, a number of big in-
ternational plant projects have been com-
pleted, and new ones are tending to be
delayed because of the credit crunch. Last
year did not turn out so bad in the end,
and I would be happy to be able to re-
port the same result this year.”
Perhaps Verbaeten is overly cautious.
Eurofer, the European steel industries’
confederation, reported an increase in
steam coal and iron ore stocks in 4Q/09
and steel output, which fell dramatically
last year, is expected to start growing again
later this year, particularly as demand for
new cars recovers. We shall see.
As previously reported, Antwerp has cut
breakbulk/conventional fees in a bid to
February 2010 37
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