By Diederik Baazil (Bloomberg) —
Port of Rotterdam CEO Allard Castelein expressed concern that high energy costs caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine may chase away energy-intensive companies operating at Europe’s biggest gateway for seaborne trade.
“We are most worried about the energy supply and prices,” Castelein said in an interview at his office at the World Port Center on Thursday. “There are companies on our port that run on gas and weren’t able to compete on a world market. That is a big challenge for us.”
The port released figures that showed it handled a total of 467 million metric tons of cargo in 2022, down 0.3% from a year earlier.
Despite the overall stability on volumes, the underling numbers show “enormous changes in volume flows” Castelein said.
Container handling dropped 5.5% measured in 20-foot equivalent units as Russia shipments ceased, while coal imports rose 18% given more German coal-fired power was used. LNG imports, mainly from the US, rose by 64%.
Last year thousands of Russia-linked containers piled up in the port because international sanctions against Moscow. That issue has become “non-existing,” Castelein said, as “only a couple of containers haven’t been picked up.”
For 2023 he expects just a “small decline” in volumes. Still, the extended conflict in Eastern Europe, combined with the green-energy incentives in the US Inflation Reduction Act, could worsen the disruptions in Rotterdam by chasing away port-based chemical companies, he warns.
“If we haven’t sufficient affordable energy, we have a problem,” he said, adding that energy costs in Europe are eight times higher than they are in the US.
“Companies could say the investment climate in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, north Europe isn’t sufficiently attractive and they could choose to leave,” Castelein said. That is one of the biggest challenges for the next couple of years.”
© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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