2022 August 17 14:55

Port of Hamburg's total throughput up 0.9 percent to 4.4 million TEU in H1 2022

The container throughput trend in the Port of Hamburg in the first half of 2022 was more positive than expected, according to the company's release.

Total throughput of 4.4 million TEU – 20-ft standard containers – in the first six months of the year represented slight growth of 0.9 percent. Compared to the major competing ports of Antwerp-Bruges, Rotterdam and Bremen/Bremerhaven in Northern Europe, all reporting downturns in container handling, Hamburg was the only major port in the range to report an increase. At the four major ports in the European North Range, for the first six months average container throughput fell by 4.6 percent. Against this trend Hamburg, gained 1.1 percentage points, being the only top port to achieve growth in container handling.

At 61.8 million tons, throughput in Germany’s largest universal port was 2.7 percent lower than in the comparable period of the previous year. The drop in the total throughput can be explained by the weaker figure for bulk cargo handling. At 17.6 million tons, handling in Hamburg was down by 8.9 percent. Totals for each of the three segments were lower. At 3.0 million tons, suction cargoes were down by 7.2 percent, at 10.2 million tons, grab cargoes by 3.2 percent, and at 4.5 million tons, liquid cargoes by 20.5 percent. The overall total was partly the result of stiffer EU sanctions against Russia, along with changes dictated by the market in the trading and transport of raw materials.

The EU sanctions imposed on Russia in the first half caused a 50.9 percent drop in container handling between Hamburg and Russian ports to 79,000 TEU. Russia accordingly fell from its Top Ten ranking in fourth place, to 15th place.

No change occurred among the Port of Hamburg’s three most important trading partners on the basis of throughput volumes. These were China, including Hong Kong with 1.3 million TEU, up by 5.8 percent, the USA with 291,000 TEU, 3.9 percent lower, and Singapore, 6.7 percent ahead with 218,000 TEU. These were followed by Poland, up by 53.2 percent at 166,000 TEU, Sweden, 8.3 percent ahead with 157,000 TEU, Finland, 31.5 percent up at 108,000 TEU, Denmark, up 2.8 percent at 103,000 TEU, Brazil, 28 percent lower at 102,000 TEU, United Kingdom 19.8 percent down at 100,000 TEU; and South Korea, 18.6 percent lower at 95,000 TEU.

Among the reasons for the satisfactory throughput increases in seaborne container throughput for the Port of Hamburg with Poland, Finland, Sweden and Denmark were the restructuring and concentration of feeder services. The use of Hamburg to serve the Baltic region as a hub for transhipment traffic has increased again. Total first-half container transhipment throughput in Hamburg was up by 2.7 percent at 1.6 million TEU.

During the first six months of 2022, 1.4 million TEU were transported on the Port Railway network – a drop of just 0.2 percent compared to last year. A total of 23.6 million tons, down 0.3 percent were transported to and from the Port of Hamburg during the first half of the year.

Around 210 freight trains with more than 5,500 railcars use the Port Railway’s high-performance 300-kilometre network daily.

For the coming weeks, the Port of Hamburg’s marketing organization would like to see an agreement reached between negotiators in the still unresolved tariff conflict between ver.di trade union and German seaport operators. Against the background of a deteriorating overall economic situation, which is likely to be characterised by an expected rise in energy prices and a weakening in consumption, further development of seaborne cargo handling is more likely to weaken by the end of the year. Yet a transfer of bulk cargo shipments caused by the ongoing low water period on the Rhine could ensure growth for a limited period. As a versatile universal port and leading rail port, the Port of Hamburg could benefit from this.

A cargo handling total of around 130 million tons and 8.7 million TEU following stabilization of transport chains and the world economic situation may be optimistic, but is not out of the question.