Port news from Marseille Fos – A mixed first-half at leading French port Marseille Fos saw continued growth in general cargo and a strong recovery in passenger numbers – but bulk volumes in retreat due to various exceptional factors. Total cargo throughput finished 3% down on January-June last year at 39.13 million tonnes.
General cargo rose 1% to 9.2MT, including 6MT from containers. In unit terms, 3% growth at Fos kept overall volumes stable on 623, 137 teu. General cargo activity in the Marseille harbour area remained stable thanks to ro-ro traffic rising 7% to 2MT, in contrast to a 6% fall in conventional trades, which are strongly linked to steel products.
Liquid bulks dipped 3% to 23.4MT, a 0.7MT loss on last year, after feeling the brunt of national strike action over labour laws. Oil & gas volumes fell 2% to 21.9MT – with crude imports down 6% to 12.7MT, refined products 2% worse on 5.6MT and LPG slumping 13% to 1MT, but LNG soaring 31% to 2.6MT on rising European demand. Meanwhile liquid chemicals and agro-products were hit both by the strike and a March/April technical stoppage at the Berre petro-chemicals base, ending 16% down on 1.5MT.
Dry bulks fell 10% to 6.6MT, largely because the Europe-wide steel industry crisis left imports of raw materials down 9% on 4.6MT. Throughput was also affected by conversion of the Uniper energy company’s coal-fired Gardanne power station to biomass fuel. Other bulks, such as peat and fertiliser, fell 14% to 1.6MT but agro-bulks held steady on 0.45MT, notably due to a surge in wheat imports.
Passenger throughput recovered from a 13% slump in Q1 to finish on 962, 000, matching last year’s first-half performance as the summer season went into full swing. Cruise numbers rose by 2% to 617, 000 – an extra 14, 000 passengers – with a 15% increase in June alone. Ferry carryings on North Africa and Corsica services – down 8% in the first quarter – narrowed the deficit to 3% on 345, 000, led by a 7% increase to Algeria.