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Issue 5 2014 - Freight Business Journal

29 Walking on water

They never do things by halves in Belgium and Holland. While we in little old England are fixated by a couple of new container berths in the south-east, it’s easy to forget that by far the biggest port development in Europe is only a few miles away across the North Sea, in Rotterdam’s giant new Maasvlakte development. And, arguably, London’s third runway (and its fourth, fiſth and sixth) has already been built – at Amsterdam Schiphol, now one of Europe’s biggest cargo hubs. There are developments large and small in Belgium, too.

Maasvlakte 2 – the big day looms

Rotterdam’s vast new Maasvlakte 2 container terminal is due to open by the end of the year, with new terminals operated by Rotterdam World Gateway and APMT. That however hasn’t dampened down speculation over which lines will use which terminals. While it is a fair bet that Maersk will be a major user of the APMT facility – the in-house terminal operating arm of Maersk’s owners,

the AP Moller Group – there was already uncertainty over the plans of other operators. Now that the P3 deal has been

abandoned, the erstwhile partners are presumably free to make their own terminal arrangements in Rotterdam – which may or may not entail a move from their existing terminals to Maasvlakte 2. The early effect of Maasvlakte

2’s opening on Rotterdam’s total container traffic will probably be fairly small, says port

increase the amount of space on their vessels allocated to Rotterdam. “However, we have to be realistic – given the current state of the economy, there will probably only be a gradual increase.” The effect of Maasvlakte 2 and


Minco Van Heezen, because it will mostly take traffic already handled at other terminals in the port. But over time, as shipping lines introduce more super-panamax ships that can only be handled at large, 24-hour terminals, it will increase its market share, he believes. Shipping lines will also gradually

the larger container ships might also have profound effects on feeder services, not least to the UK. If Liverpool and other UK ports develop facilities to handle larger ships, could a ‘super feeder’ service pattern emerge with ships of around 4,000teu and upwards operating from Rotterdam direct to the UK regions and bringing containers closer to the final point of consumption? Only time will tell; like much else in container shipping at the moment, it is still a matter of speculation. Minco Van Heezen says: “Like

everything, it’s a question of demand. If regional economies in the UK are not growing, the concept might take time to take off. But there is interest from places like Teesport and elsewhere, and if some of these volumes could be combined, the idea might take off.”

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