Marseilles Predicts Bulks Recovery

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Cargo throughput at the Port of Marseilles-Fos to the end of November was marked by sustained growth in container and liquid bulks traffic, while passenger numbers continued to be boosted by the cruise sector. In contrast, oil and dry bulk volumes fell by a combined five million tonnes compared with the first 11 months last year to leave the cargo total down 4.3% for the period on 87.9MT.

The port authority says that 2008 throughput should recover to the 2006 level of more than 100MT as the Fos Cavaou methane terminal, a second Arcelor-Mittal steel foundry and the Cap Vracs clinker and cement works come on stream. Among the 2007 high spots, January-November container traffic rose 4.5% to almost 908,000 teu, with east-west trades via Fos up 8.1% on 647,000 teu. Box tonnage of 9.2MT (+7.6%) saw general cargo to 15.9MT (+5.5%), which also featured a 6.5% ro-ro increase to 4MT.

Liquid bulks, driven by chemicals industry demand, improved 6.2% for the period on 3.1MT but dry bulks remained 19.8% worse on 12.1MT. The 3MT deficit was largely due to lower demand from the steel industry, which accounts for two-thirds of the trade. Oil volumes dropped by 2MT to finish 3.3% down on 56.8MT. Crude imports were stable on 40.4MT. This included some 30MT for local refineries, a 2.7% rise, with the balance marking a 6.3% drop in pipeline deliveries to Germany and Switzerland. LNG traffic slipped just 0.5% to 3.7MT, while a 13.6% downturn in refined products and LPG – to 12.7MT – reflected higher than usual imports in 2006 due to the shutdown of a Total refinery. Passenger throughput grew 1.8% to 1.963 million. Cruise numbers represented 20% of the total with a 13.1% increase to 418,000, surpassing the 400,000 target for the full year. The number of ‘home port’ passengers rose 28% to 92,700.

Ferry services carried 1.545 million passengers - down 0.9% - with 2.8% increases on Corsica and Tunisia services wiped out by an 8% decline for Algeria attributed to new competition from airlines.

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