Containers and steel bulks lead Marseilles Fos Q1 growth
Driven by major growth in container and steel industry trades, total cargo throughput at leading French port Marseilles Fos reached 22 million tonnes to the end of March for a 1% improvement on the first quarter last year. Meanwhile passenger traffic rose by 18% despite a sharp downturn in cruise numbers due to the sinking of regular caller Costa Concordia in January.
General cargo gained 23% to 4.26MT on the back of revitalised container volumes, which the port authority attributed to ‘a manifest improvement in reliability’ following last year’s national port reforms. In unit terms, box traffic was up 26% at just under 260, 000 teu. Although this compares with a poor first quarter in 2011, the container total was 6% better than in 2010 and confirms a solid upward trend. Ro-ro services contributed 0.98MT, a 5% increase carried by trade with Corsica, and conventional cargo rose 27% to 0.69MT in response to demand for steel products.
Imports of raw materials for the steel industry prompted a37% rise in dry bulks to 3MT despite the general weakness of the European steel market.
In contrast, the oil-dominated liquid bulks sector was hit by the closure or technical shut down of several refineries and fell to 14.7MT– a 9% drop that was echoed in the crude oil and petroleum products total of 13.9MT. Refined products grew 31% to 3.9MT and LPG added 4% for0.76MT, but LNG finished 10% down on 1.7MT. The 0.8MT balance came from liquid chemicals and agro-products, a slip of 1% on Q1 last year when the port handled an exceptional load of industrial water.
Passenger throughput totalled 208, 000 for an overall increase of 18%. Ferry carryings rose 40% to 164, 000 after a resurgence in services to Tunisia (+80%), Algeria (+10%) and Corsica (+47%) following last year’s political and social unrest. Cruise numbers slumped 25% to44, 000 as a direct result of losing weekly calls by the stricken Concordia.