A fair quinquennium
Smiles all round at the 2019 media conference of the port of Dunkirk, which is on the Channel but traditionally stages this event in Lille. Its results for 2018 fitted seamlessly into the recovery that the hub has managed since the difficult years of 2008–2010.
There is good news from the French side of la Manche. The port of Dunkirk, which recently presented its results for 2018 in Lille, was happy that it was not only successful last year, but that it was also able to preserve its good overall development for the period from 2013 to today. Dunkirk has overcome the economic upheaval of the shipping crisis of 2009 / 2010 and the consequences of the closure of oil refineries in the port by establishing new foci for the future.
“Today we’re a gateway for all modes of energy,” as CEO Stéphane Raison formulated it. Raison, who was named personality of the year for 2018 by the industry service IBJ recently, hit the nail on the head in the figurative sense too.
Growth in many markets
The port’s throughput for the year came to 51.6 million t in 2018. The rise of 3% vis-à-vis the previous twelve months means that the symbolic mark of 50 million t of goods has now definitely been broken through. Only general cargo (–2% to 20.2 million t) and cross-channel volumes (–4% to 596,000 lorries and trailers) declined slightly.
Container throughput came to approximately 422,000 teu, a new high and a hefty 13% improvement in comparison with 2017. The hub’s Flanders terminal also benefited from the growth in transhipment volumes to and from Spain, Portugal and northern England. Raison told the ITJ that “we’re aiming to handle 500,000 teu in 2019.”
Solid bulk volumes grew by 5% to 25.9 million t. Ores attained a new high, with volumes in the field climbing above the 15 million t mark for the first time. The amount of coal handled, which is on the slide in many a hub, rose by 7% to 6.4 million t in the port of Dunkirk. Grains have recuperated somewhat after the poor harvests of the past few years, with growth of 11% here representing a bright spot and bringing the figure to a total of 1.44 million t.
Liquid bulk goods also put in a solid performance in 2018, with an 8% augmentation bringing the total to 5.5 million t. LNG imports and exports were the top performer, however, shooting up by 56% to 1.22 million t. Dunkirk has the second-largest LNG terminal amongst northern range ports, after all.
Programmes and plans for the future
A series of ongoing projects in the port are scheduled for completion in 2019, with the extension of the Flanders quay to a length of 500 m due to be finished in the first quarter, for example. This will enable two ultra-large containerships to be loaded and unloaded simultaneously in future. In the second quarter emission-free land-side cold ironing for vessels will become a reality.
In the third quarter, two green-field developments welcoming new firms to the port compound will start operations – the Dunkerque Logistique Internationale Sud zone (DLI) and the Zone Grandes Industries (ZGI). 2018 saw twelve new enterprises settle in the port and its environs, or then recommit to the region through new contracts, including both SNF Floerger and 24hFrost.
Brexit is crucial – but does not say it all
30 March will see a new era start in the important trade across the Channel. Dunkirk is investing approximately EUR 3.5 million in immediate measures in the customs and consolidation segments. Raison let the ITJ know that further plans are in the top drawer for various scenarios that could develop.
Further multimodal linkages to and from the port through Greenmodal are set to become reality in February 2019. 100,000 t of bananas were shipped to Dunkirk from Colombia and Costa Rica for the first time in 2018 – which is expected to be but the start of a big trade.