Port of Antwerp marks seventh record year in a row


Europe’s second-biggest port has enjoyed another strong year, despite economic uncertainty in global markets, as it looks towards a more sustainable future

‘A port in motion’

The Port of Antwerp has seen significant growth for the seventh year in a row, with freight volume up 1.3% to 238 million tonnes. Although some segments are under pressure, the port says it is making progress both economically and in sustainability and mobility.

Container freight in particular gained market share in 2019, up from 27.5% to 28.2%, while the total volume of the dry bulk segment expanded by 3.4%. In breakbulk, where steel is the main product, the port suffered from the consequences of global turbulence, with an overall contraction of 13%. In liquid bulk, the volume was down by 4.4%, due mainly to the slowdown in economic growth and fluctuations in oil prices.

“We are using the technology and expertise that we have to smooth the path towards becoming a carbon-neutral port,” said CEO Jacques Vandermeiren. “We are striving for a multi-fuel port where various sustainable fuels are available. In the near future we’ll be experimenting with tugs powered by sustainable methanol hydrogen. Other interesting avenues that we are exploring are carbon capture and utilisation, and carbon capture and storage, along with ways of reusing carbon in circular processes. It is our ambition to make the sustainable transition a reality, and the Port of Antwerp has a pioneering role to play here.”

Important role

The port is also focusing on improving mobility, by more efficient consolidation of freight traffic, further digitisation of the port infrastructure and coordinated management of rail infrastructure.

“A growing port is a port in motion, and we aim to further extend the modal shift,” added Vandermeiren. “Last year, 24 million tonnes of freight was carried by rail. That’s 7% of the total freight volume. We aim to double this to 15% by 2030. Pipelines too have an increasingly important role to play.”

Additionally this year, large investments were announced in the chemical and logistics sectors, with which the port is closely linked. As well as a record investment of €3 billion by INEOS in the Antwerp chemical cluster, this year saw work begin on the ECLUSE steam distribution network. ExxonMobil’s Delayed Coker Unit went into operation and there were other investments by companies such as BASF, Borealis and Standic.

As Europe’s second-largest port, the Port of Antwerp handles around 235 million tonnes of international maritime freight each year and is home to Europe’s largest integrated chemical cluster. It provides, directly and indirectly, approximately 143,000 jobs. 

Photo: courtesy Port of Antwerp

Port of Antwerp

The port of Antwerp is Europe’s second-largest port and one of the world’s most important ports for container traffic.
Going green - The port’s first-ever sustainability report won it the Award for Best Belgian Sustainability Report.
Size - The port takes up more space than the actual city of Antwerp.
Roots - Historians have found evidence for the port’s existence dating back to the 12th century.

barges entering the port daily


companies in the greater port area


tonnes of freight handled in 2012