New records mark year of growth at Marseille Fos
Record container volumes headlined all-round freight growth at leading French port Marseille Fos in 2015, when total cargo rose 4.1% on the previous year to 81.7 million tonnes. Meanwhile the best ever cruise numbers took passenger throughput to a new peak.
Container traffic was up by 3.5% to 1.22 million teu and by 4% in tonnage terms to 11.7MT – marking three consecutive years of growth when box volumes have increased by a cumulative 15% under the port’s ‘alternative southern gateway for Europe’ strategy. The port authority said 2015 statistics confirmed the trend, with Marseille Fos regaining container market share while throughput at ports in northern Europe fell by an average of 1.6% and growth at other south European ports was pegged to an average of 2%.
Growth projections for 2016 will be supported by an €83 million investment budget – an 84% increase on last year’s €45m – for the completion or launch of projects featuring enhancements to container, passenger and shiprepair facilities (see below – Investments and 2016 outlook).
General cargo rose 1% in 2015 to 17.9MT thanks to the record container result, which reflected strong performances in both the Marseille and Fos port areas. Conventional trades dropped 15% on 2.4MT but ro-ro traffic contributed a 4% gain to 3.8MT, including 170, 260 trailers and 165, 500 import/export cars – both up 6%.
Box throughput was boosted by four new services from Marseille and two from Fos – extending intra-Mediterranean, West Africa and Indian Ocean/Oceania coverage – and by capacity increases of up to 60% on the O3 (Asia/US) and G6 (Asia) alliances operating through Fos. A new Marseille-Middle East con-ro service is now about to start, as well as a ro-ro line serving Civitavecchia (Rome).
Pre- and post-forwarding activity demonstrated the scope of the port’s rail and inland waterways links for container moves. Rail traffic showed double-digit growth for the second year running with a 13% rise to 112, 000 teu – helped by strengthened services for areas such as Dunkirk, Paris and Antwerp. Further enhancements due in 2016 include Lyon frequency rising from 15 to 17 services per week; reduction of Strasbourg transit times from Day A/C to Day A/B; and a new shuttle serving Niort in mid-western France. Meanwhile waterways box traffic set a new record in 2015, rising 4% to 99, 000 teu on the back of 17 regular shippers.
Liquid bulks improved 5% over the 12 months to 49.9MT. The oil and gas sector saw a six-point rise to 46.3MT, with crude imports 8% better on 27MT and refined products gaining 7% to 12.8MT as refineries continued to benefit from advantageous margins. LPG finished 9% better on 2.2MT but LNG was down 7% to 4.2MT. Liquid chemicals and agro-products slipped 3% to 3.6MT following a lengthy shutdown at the Lyondell chemicals plant.
Dry bulks delivered a 3% increase to 13.9MT. Imports of raw materials helped steel industry volumes to remain stable on 9.7MT while other bulks – including coal and cement – rose 22% to 3.4MT. Agro-bulks slumped 16% to 0.8MT due to the closure of a sugar refinery and a poor cereals season.
Passenger throughput rose 2% to top 2.5 million for the first time as cruise numbers soared 11% to a record 1.446 million – including 947, 000 passengers in transit (+16%) and 499, 000 home port passengers (+2%). In contrast, ferry carryings fell 8% to 1.06 million – North Africa services saw a 2% increase to almost 460, 000 but Corsica numbers plunged 12% to 603, 200 due to year-end strike action against the takeover of operator SNCM, which will now be run as Maritima Ferries.
Investments and 2016 outlook
Marseille Fos is gearing for more growth in the current year, with forecasts of 83.7MT in cargo throughput and 2.9 million passengers. Among several encouraging factors, the port authority cites 2015 growth superior to the European average; demand from leading shippers to increase their traffic through the port; and the confidence shown by terminal operators investing heavily on equipment.
Both Fos 2XL container terminal operators have committed to further major spending. Eurofos has followed up last year’s delivery of 12 straddle carriers with an order for the world’s two biggest quay cranes – due in service this autumn – while Seayard has ordered a super-post-Panamax crane for 2017, with an option on a second.
The port’s own investment spend of €45million last year will leap 84% to €83m in 2016 at the midway point of a four-year development strategy. Work will continue on current projects involving extension of the Feuillane logistics park in Fos, road improvements, waterways facilities, relocation of ferry passenger terminals and ‘cold ironing’ quayside power connections for ferries. Several studies will also be launched including cold ironing for cruise vessels, Fos rail links and lengthening of the Fos 2XL quay with a mid-section joining the two container terminals.
In addition two other current projects will be completed – enlargement of the Passe Nord access for cruise ships; and renovation of Drydock 10, the world’s third biggest at 465 metres long and 85m wide.
The drydock is aimed mainly at the mega-cruiseship market as well as the largest container, LNG and bulk carriers. The facility is due to be operational by September and the first cruise customer is expected by the end of the year. The 25-year operating franchise group is headed by Italy’s San Giorgio del Porto and includes a subsidiary already based at the port, Chantier Naval de Marseille. In 2015, repair activity was at its highest for three years with a 25% increase to 1, 933 days of occupation covering 24 merchant ships (+4%) and 74 pleasure vessels (+10%).
Press enquiries: Paul Ellis, Direct Public Relations, UK +44 (0)1923 260960