Annik Dirkx, spokesperson at Port of Antwerp

Annik Dirkx explains what makes the Port of Antwerp stand out and looks at the trend towards containerisation

Please tell us about the importance of the chemical cluster and petrochemical logistics to overall business at Port of Antwerp?
The port hosts the largest chemical cluster in Europe. The high level of integration and diversity throughout the value chain of the chemical players in Antwerp is unique in the world. Over the years, this has brought together some of the most cutting-edge logistics experts to safely and securely store, handle and distribute oils, chemicals and gases.Annik Dirkx

The three refineries and four steam crackers in the port provide a stable local availability of raw materials. The close co-operation between the chemical companies on a production level, but also on an energy and service level results in an extremely cost-efficient production. 7 out of the 10 main chemical producers worldwide have a plant in Antwerp. A reliable supply of raw materials over sea, by rail, barge and pipeline is also guaranteed thanks to the port’s location.

What do you consider as the key advantage of the Port of Antwerp for bulk logistics operators (liquid & dry bulks)?

  • Huge warehouse capacity, both for open and covered warehouses
  • Dedicated warehouses for sugar (260.000 tonnes for sugar)
  • Dedicated warehouses for non-ferro (250.000 tonnes)
  • About 50 LME approved warehouses offered by 8 different operators
  • Bonded warehousing
  • Presence of a scrap trading market
  • Presence of pipelines
  • Presence of tank cleaning stations
  • The position of the port, close to the industrial heart of Europe
  • Connectivity to the hinterland via a good, well balanced and wide spread rail, road and waterway network

Has the port witnessed growing containerisation of bulk product in recent years?
Yes, we have witnessed a growing containerisation of bulk products in recent years. In addition, we have witnessed this trend for all commodities, due to the lower cost price of transport in containers and the possibility to transport smaller amounts of goods.

As for the liquid bulk, I can add that the containerisation of polymers has strengthened the position of the port of Antwerp over the past ten years.  

What special facilities are available to shippers wanting to move product through Antwerp?
Warehouses, cargo surveyors and value add logistics activities such as blending, bagging and sifting.  

Please outline some of the special facilities available for handling dangerous goods in the port?
High SSHEQ standards, 15 sites where dangerous cargo can be treated, dedicated tanks & piping infrastructure and the highest number of stainless steel tanks. 

Is land under growing pressure in terms of allocating space to the different cargo sectors?
The Port of Antwerp has space available for the future. We do not only intend to make even better use of the land that is being used for the moment, we also have land available for expansion, for future projects.  

On the left bank we have a Saeftinghe development area of about 1.073 acres. It will be developed in the future. On the same side we have container capacity available at the Deurganckdok, this will be more intensively used in the future with the announced move of shipping line MSC from the right bank (Delwaide dock) to the left bank (Deurganck dock). Besides this the P3 alliance will also mean a more intensive use of the Deurganckdock. Please note that the port of Antwerp is the only port in the ARA-range that sees an increase of calls to the port! When MSC will have left the right bank, this means that we will have space for water related activities at the right bank (Delwaide dock).

Furthermore, we just acquired the former site of General Motors in the port, a site of 96 acres, which will be made available for port investment projects. We prefer to attract an industrial project, but of course we are open to every project that will make extensive use of this valuable area and that will create a high amount of added value for the region creating employment. 

What near-term plans does Port of Antwerp have for bulk cargo sectors?
Dry bulk: we continue to focus upon the trade in fertilizers (amongst others of course) and we want to develop Antwerp as a future hub for biomass. We have committed ourselves to being a sustainable port, so the focus on these kinds of trades is inherent to this ambition.