Throughput at the port of Rotterdam increases by 3.0% in the first quarter of 2021


The volume of cargo handled in the port of Rotterdam in the first quarter of this year amounted to 115.8 million tonnes. This represents an increase of 3.0% compared to the same period last year. As such, the Port of Rotterdam has taken another step forward in its recovery after the drop in throughput in 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most pronounced increase was observed in the volumes of biomass (+ 36.7%), coal (+ 25.2%) and petroleum products (+ 19.7%) passing through Rotterdam. Port terminals also handled a significantly higher number of containers (+ 4.5%). Volumes decreased in the LNG (-26.8%), agribulk (-8.6%) and other liquid bulk (-2.8%) segments.

The biomass

The biomass throughput increased due to a large increase in the volume of co-fired biomass at the Amer 9 power station in Geertruidenberg. In the coal segment, we have seen a strong demand for thermal coal in response to the cold winter. Demand for coke also accelerated, which had a positive impact on coal throughput. Bulk breakage flows have increased due to the increasing demand for non-ferrous metals and steel.

Containerschip © DannyCornelissen

Photo: Danny Cornelissen

Oil products

The volumes of petroleum products at the Rotterdam terminals increased mainly due to higher inflows and outflows of fuel oil and diesel / diesel. The total throughput has been significantly increased by loading two VLCCs with fuel to Singapore, for example.


In the container segment, the number of TEUs handled increased by 4.5%. When calculated on the basis of this standard unit, container volumes have increased due to higher demand for consumer goods. Measured in tonnes, the throughput of containers has indeed shown a slight decrease (-0.7%), which is partly explained by an increase in the number of empty containers and, on the other hand, by a lower average weight. . per unit loaded.


The drop in LNG volumes is the result of a decrease in import flows. Higher price levels in Asia have led to growth in the transport of LNG to this market. The decrease in agro-bulk throughput can be attributed to abundant stocks. Within the other liquid bulk segment, there has been a modest increase in the flow of biofuels. In contrast, volumes of vegetables and chemicals declined in the first quarter.

Ro-Ro volumes in the first quarter were at normal levels, showing an increase of + 3.4%. This is quite remarkable given the new post-Brexit situation, which introduced new customs formalities from January 1.

Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port Authority of Rotterdam: “In general, the increase in throughput volume in the first quarter gives a positive image. Nevertheless, these times remain turbulent for companies active in trade and logistics. At this stage, the main challenge that awaits us is to deal with the after-effects of the Suez blockade in terms of logistics. The Port Authority of Rotterdam does everything possible to support its customers – among other things by offering real-time ETA surveys at all the port’s high seas terminals.
Source: Port of Rotterdam

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