First-quarter cargo throughput at leading French port Marseille Fos was marked by strong growth in general cargo – container, ro-ro and conventional traffic – which totalled 4.98 million tonnes for an 11% increase on January-March last year.
Container numbers rose 5% overall and by 7% at the deepsea Fos terminals to reach 329,947 teu, representing an 8% tonnage increase to 3.26MT. Ro-ro volumes improved 11% to top 1MT, with trailer units up 10% on 46,188 and import/export cars stable on 38,160. Meanwhile conventional trades jumped 22% to 0.7MT on the back of steel products.
Dry bulks, largely based on ore imports for the steel industry, surged 11% in March to finish the quarter 1% ahead on 3.41MT – signalling a recovery from the 2016 slowdown caused by China’s global dumping of cheap steel, the conversion of coal-fired plants to biomass fuel and a poor harvest. With steel-related traffic down 4% to 2.13MT and agro-bulks 67% worse on 0.06MT, the result was driven by a 25% increase in other bulks to 1.22MT.
Liquid bulks, dominated by oil & gas volumes, dropped 10% to 11.17MT. The oil & gas total of 10.44MT was also down 10% as refinery conversion and maintenance projects saw crude imports fall 25% to 5.2MT. In contrast, refined products soared 22% to 3.29MT, LNG added 5% for 1.24MT and LPG was up 4% on 0.7MT. Liquid chemicals and agro-products also contributed 0.7MT, a 12% fall reflecting a five-yearly maintenance shutdown at the Kem One plant.
The three-month cargo total across all sectors finished 3% down on 19.56MT.
Passenger throughput rose 5% to 288,000. With low season cruise numbers slipping 2% to 149,000, the period was notable for a 12% rise in ferry passengers, where the 139,000 total was boosted by respective increases of 10% and 39% on Corsica and Algeria services.
XPO deal adds to Fos logistics growth
XPO Logistics, one of the world’s ten largest supply chain providers, is to start operations at the end of this year from a new 45,000m2 warehouse in the Feuillane logistics zone at the port of Marseille Fos. The company will be servicing household and multimedia products distributor Electro Depot from the first warehouse in a 185,000m2 scheme by developer Idec Life.
Adjoining the Fos container terminals, the 364,000m2 capacity Feuillane zone has 149,000m2 in current operation and 215,000m2 in the development and marketing stage. Meanwhile the nearby 575,000m2 Fos Distriport has 375,000m2 in use and 215,000m2 in the pipeline. Added to the XPO site, a 60,000m2 Distriport project agreed in January with developer Wlife means that warehouse expansion at the port in Q1 2017 has already outstripped last year’s 70,000m2 total, with more to be announced in Q2.
Gas on offer at new Fos truck facility
The Marseille Fos port authority has opened a truck service area close to the container terminals and Distriport logistics park in Fos.
Open 24/7, the Mat de Ricca facility at Port Saint Louis du Rhone features the region’s first truck-dedicated natural gas filling station, developed by Proviridis under the Vgas brand name. The 42-place parking area is fully enclosed and under video/security personnel surveillance. A drivers’ diner is to be added to washroom amenities in the coming months.