Leading French cargo port Marseilles Fos recorded January-September throughput of 66.4 million tonnes – up 1% on the first nine months last year – while passenger numbers rose 11% to almost two million.
A 6% rise in oil and gas volumes compensated for the decline seen since the start of the year in the general cargo and dry bulk sectors, which continue to be hit by the world economic slowdown. The overall total compared with a 1% downturn at other major French ports but lagged behind the European average 3.6% growth for the period.
Looking ahead, however, the Marseilles Fos port authority said the return of three shipping lines since May, the projected return of a fourth line and a string of new arrivals at the Distriport logistics zone – including Maison du Monde, Mattel, GCA and Mediaco – was a sign of confidence that promised increased growth in
the coming months.
General cargo reached 11.65MT, down 4% on a particularly dynamic period last year. Container traffic, accounting for almost 7MT of the total, fell 6% in unit terms to 704, 800 teu due to losing 35, 000 teu through strike action in early 2011 over national retirement age reforms. Conventional trades, strongly dependent on
steel products, fell 11% to 1.48MT but ro-ro traffic was stable on 3.22MT.
The six-point increase in oil and gas throughput to 44.8MT was marked by a 35% rise in LNG to 5.3MT and a 30% improvement in LPG to 1.6MT. Crude imports for national refineries slipped 2% on 21.6MT, but South European Pipeline deliveries were up 13% on 6.8MT and refined products gained 5% to 9.5MT.
Growth since July saw chemical and agro liquid bulks to a 3% increase on 2.65MT, helped by demand for biofuels and the reopening of the Arkema chemicals plant after a five-yearly maintenance shutdown.
Dry bulks – dominated by raw materials imports for the steel industry – were down 18% at 7.3MT for the period, although an Arcelor foundry that had been shut down since December came back into operation in mid-September and boosted the month-on-month result by 35%.
Passenger numbers totalled 1.93 million with an 11% rise in both the ferry and cruise sectors, which handled 1.31m and 0.62m respectively. The ferry total was marked by a spectacular 31% increase in Corsica traffic. Numbers were down 14% for Algeria and 20% for Tunisia but are expected to improve with the
stabilisation of the political situation in these countries.