Marseilles Fos Box, Bulk, Cruise Growth Eases Oil Trend
Traffic to the end of March at French port Marseilles Fos saw major rises in container, dry bulk and cruise passenger volumes, but total cargo throughput fell 6% to 18.8 million metric tons, down by 1.2MT on the first quarter last year – due to declining oil trades in a changing market.
General cargo improved 1% to 4.3MT, led by 2.8MT in container tonnage. In unit terms, box traffic rose 9% to 287,929 teu, with monthly throughput hitting a landmark 100,000 teu in both February and March. The performance was boosted by two new services, a Fos-Spain/Italy feeder and a direct line between Marseilles and Libya. These helped to stabilize container volumes at Marseilles and drive an 11% increase at the Fos terminals. Elsewhere in the general cargo sector, conventional trades dipped 1% to 0.7MT and ro-ro fell 10% to 0.8MT after industrial disputes at two operators in January.
Dry bulk traffic climbed 19% to 3.6MT, restoring pre-economic crisis levels. Backed by rising coal imports, the main increase stemmed from steel industry demand for ore imports, which grew 23% to some 2.5MT. However, agro-bulks were down 8% on 0.26MT after falling grain prices weakened barley and corn exports.
Meanwhile the oil-led liquid bulks sector slumped 14% to 10.9MT. Crude oil and petroleum products totaled 10.1MT, down by 1.8MT and 16% on the first three months last year. With refining margins collapsing at three local plants, crude imports for national refineries were 21% worse on 5.1MT, while crude volumes for South European Pipeline delivery fell 19% to 0.54MT. Refined products dropped 2% to some 2.9MT, while LNG finished 27% worse on 0.97MT and LPG was 9% down at 0.6MT. In contrast, liquid chemicals and agro-products improved 17% to 0.9MT thanks to biofuel exports and a 70% increase in caustic soda exports from the Kem One plant in Lavera, which was saved from closure last December and is now about to be modernized.