Significant decrease in transhipment in 2020 due to energy transition and coronavirus   

Press release
15-01-2021

The port of Amsterdam experienced a decrease in transhipment in 2020 for the first time in a long time. While transhipment was at a record high in 2019 at 86.9 million tonnes, in 2020 this number was 74.3 million tonnes, a 14% decrease, for the port of Amsterdam.

Overslag Amsterdamse haven 2020
Photo by Machiel Kraaij

It wasn’t only the coronavirus that caused the reduced transhipment numbers; it was primarily the energy transition that resulted in a significant decrease of coal transhipment in 2020. The other ports in the North Sea Canal area primarily felt the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. The total transhipment in 2020 for the North Sea Canal ports (Beverwijk, IJmuiden, Zaanstad and Amsterdam) amounted to about 91 million tonnes compared to 105 million tonnes in 2019.

In IJmuiden, transhipment decreased by 4% to 16 million tonnes. Beverwijk also saw transhipment decrease, from 648,000 tonnes to around 472,000 tonnes. Zaanstad experienced a slight increase from 194,000 tonnes compared to 180,000 tonnes in 2019. This is according to the provisional transhipment figures published today. The final transhipment figures will be announced later this year.

Impact of the energy transition on coal transhipment

The energy transition had major repercussions for coal transhipment this past coronavirus year, which decreased by 52% to 7.5 million tonnes in 2020 in the port of Amsterdam. In 2019 coal transhipment was still 15.6 million tonnes. Direct causes of this steep decrease were the closure of the Hemweg power plant in December 2019, the fact that more sustainable energy resources were available and that the gas price was low last year, making coal comparatively more expensive.

Impact of the coronavirus

Mobility came to a halt in mid-March, resulting in less demand for transport fuel worldwide. Transhipment of liquid bulk (mostly refined oil products such as petrol and diesel) decreased by 7% to 46.6 million tonnes in 2020 compared to 50 million tonnes in 2019. General cargo also decreased in 2020. Container cargo decreased by 13% compared to 2019 and Ro-Ro also experienced a 23% drop compared to the preceding year.

Amsterdam did not welcome any sea cruise ships in 2020 (2019: 117 sea cruise ships). The port of Amsterdam did welcome a number of river cruise ships during the summer months. These numbered 195 during last year’s summer months when the coronavirus measures were temporarily relaxed, compared to 2,282 in 2019.

Allocations and a quay

In 2020, about 20 hectares of ground were allocated to Vollers (4.8 hectares) and Logistics Amsterdam Harbor (4.2 hectares), and a 2-hectare lot was purchased at HoogTij. The allocation to Amsterdam Logistic Cityhub was also completed. In addition, construction of the first bio-LNG plant in the Netherlands was started at Renewi Organics in cooperation with Nordsol and Shell. The cargo flow in construction products increased to almost 8 million tonnes.

Outlook

Koen Overtoom, CEO of Port of Amsterdam: ‘The port and its customers were hard-hit by the coronavirus, and at the same time we are seeing that the energy transition is making its mark when looking at the major decrease in coal transhipment. I am proud of how the port and the various companies have continued to work, thereby proving how vital and crucial the port is. Core activities continued in 2020: energy was generated, waste was processed, water was purified, construction materials were delivered and the region was supplied with online orders by distribution centres located in the port. With a view to vaccination, I am hoping for a recovery over the course of 2021. Although it is difficult to predict transhipment developments due to the coronavirus at this time, we initiated our new four-year strategy on 1 January. This strategy is characterised by an acceleration of the energy transition through investment in the energy infrastructure and digitisation in order to become a future-proof port. Our efforts towards sustainability while simultaneously strengthening our role as a European seaport continue undiminished. With 7 billion added value and about 70,000 jobs, the North Sea Canal port creates many employment opportunities in the region and contributes to the Netherlands’ economic well-being.’