Liquid gas turnover increases: up to 3.6 million households could be supplied with natural gas

Oldenburg, February 19, 2024 | Within the nine seaports of Niedersachsen: Brake, Cuxhaven, Emden, Leer, Nordenham, Oldenburg, Papenburg, Stade and Wilhelmshaven, significant growth was achieved in automobile handling and the loading of wind energy components. Solid bulk goods such as coal and materials for the energy-intensive industry declined, as did container handling. The import of liquefied natural gas was also an important factor for Germany's energy supply in 2023.

Growth of 3% was recorded in the area of liquid bulk goods (26.59 million tons in 2023 / 25.88 million tons in 2022). The import of liquid gas contributed to the positive result here. The solid bulk goods segment fell by 25% compared to the previous year (11.21 million tons in 2023 / 14.94 million tons in 2022). Demand for coal, which was high in 2022 due to the energy crisis, has fallen sharply since then. Fertilizers, which were already in decline last year due to the sanctions against Russia and the rise in fertilizer prices, among other factors, also recorded a further decline. Throughput of general cargo (including RoRo and containers) amounted to around 12.78 million tons (-6% / 13.63 million tons in 2022). In this cargo segment, the handling of new vehicles and wind energy components recorded significant growth, while the handling of containers was below the level of 2022. The handling volume at EUROGATE Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven fell by 22.2% to 531,637 standard containers (TEU). The handling of around 1.67 million cars resulted in an increase of just under 16% compared to 2022 (1.44 million).

„2023 war ein Jahr voller Herausforderungen aber auch Chancen für unsere Hafengruppe. Während Themen, wie zu hohe Energiekosten, geopolitische Spannungen sowie ein nachlassendes Wirtschaftswachstum die Bilanz negativ beeinflussten, gab es positive Entwicklungen beim Umschlag von Automobilen, Windenergiekomponenten und Flüssigerdgas. Mit insgesamt 45 Schiffsanläufen in Wilhelmshaven konnten im Durchschnitt ca. 3,6 Mio. Haushalte mit Erdgas versorgt werden. Somit sind die Niedersächsischen Seehäfen schon jetzt unverzichtbare Umschlagplätze im Rahmen der Energiewende“, erläutert André Heim, Geschäftsführer der Hafenmarketinggesellschaft Seaports of Niedersachsen GmbH.

The following is a more detailed overview of the handling results for the individual locations: 

The seaport of Brake recorded a handling volume of 6.08 million tons in maritime transport in 2023 (- 11.3 % / 6.85 million tons in 2022). At around 2.49 million tons, general cargo handling fell 13 % short of the annual result from 2022 (2.87 million tons). This was due to declines in both the import and export of forest products. In this cargo segment, the handling of pulp declined, as pulp processing in Germany fell by 30% due to high energy costs and increased market prices. Handling of iron and steel products is at a good level. At 3.11 million tons in 2023, the solid bulk goods segment is around 8% below the level of the same period in the previous year (3.40 million tons in 2022). The Ukraine conflict continues to affect agricultural supply chains, which is having a negative impact on grain imports by sea. Also due to the conflict, rail import volumes remained at an increased level - shifting grain flows in particular (corn). Feed arrivals in 2023 were stable compared to the previous year.

Around 2.41 million tons of goods were handled by sea in Cuxhaven last year (-3% / 2.49 million tons in 2022). With 337,192 vehicles handled in 2023, the volume of new vehicles handled was around 6% higher than the previous year (319,232 vehicles in 2022). In terms of seaborne handling of general cargo, which includes timber in the port of Cuxhaven, for example, the location has a volume of around 1.12 million tons (+8 % / 1.04 million tons in 2022).

At 561,999 tons, solid bulk goods were 5% below the previous year's level (592,396 tons).

Der Hafen Emden verzeichnet einen Seegüterumschlag von rund 4,41 Millionen Tonnen im Jahr 2023 (+3 % / 4,28 Millionen Tonnen im Jahr 2022). Positiv entwickelte sich der Umschlag der Stückgüter (+10 % / 2,81 Millionen Tonnen im Jahr 2023 / 2,56 Millionen Tonnen im Jahr 2022), hier überwiegend der Im- und Export von Neufahrzeugen. Der Automobilumschlag von 1,29 Mio. Fahrzeugen liegt mit rund 16,4 % im Jahr 2023 über dem Niveau des Vergleichszeitraums (1,11 Millionen Fahrzeuge in 2022), der Emder Hafen behauptet damit seine Position als drittgrößter Autoverladehafen in der westlichen Welt. Nebenbei erhöhte sich die Zahl der in Emden umgeschlagenen Elektro- und Hybridfahrzeuge von 364.658 auf 456.463 Fahrzeuge, was einer Erhöhung um 25,2 % nachkommt. Der Umschlag von Windenergiekomponenten konnte von rund 3.500 auf 5.794 Komponenten erhöht werden, während der Umschlag von flüssigen Massengütern im Vergleich zum Jahr 2023 um 31 % zurückgegangen ist.   

The port of Leer handled 9,301 tons in maritime traffic in 2023. Throughput increased by around 40% (6,626 tons in maritime traffic in 2022). Increased volumes of ornamental stone and marble gravel contributed to the positive result. Almost 186,000 tons of goods were moved in combined sea and inland transport in Leer, compared to around 240,000 tons in the same period last year. Scrap, gravel, grit and peat were handled most frequently in the seaport of Leer.

In Nordenham, the seaborne handling result amounted to around 2.26 million tons (-17 % / 2.71 million tons in 2022). The dry bulk segment declined compared to the previous year. Demand for coal, which was high in 2022 due to the energy crisis, has fallen sharply since then (-35% / 1.10 million tons in 2023 / 1.69 million tons in 2022). In the area of liquid bulk goods, the handling of mineral oil products increased from 110,117 tons in 2022 to 314,106 tons in 2023. Stable handling figures are expected for general cargo handling in 2024, while a further decline is anticipated in coal handling, as two of the three power plants supplied from Nordenham will be taken offline.

The Port of Oldenburg recorded an increase in seaborne traffic of a good 48 % (141,756 tons in 2023 / 95,621 tons in 2022). The new turning point has sustainably improved the accessibility of the Port of Oldenburg, with additional seagoing vessels mooring at the Port of Oldenburg as a result. The handling result in combined sea/inland and rail transport was around 1.13 million tons in 2023 (1.07 million tons in 2022). The main goods handled once again included agricultural and forestry products. The Oldenburg port industry is looking positively to the future and expects handling figures to remain constant in 2024.

In 2023, the seaport of Papenburg handled 531,906 tons of sea freight (-11.7 % / 602,329 tons in 2022). In combined sea and inland transport, throughput amounted to 688,196 tons (736,826 tons in 2022). Declines were recorded in the handling of ship and machine parts, steel imports, fertilizer and peat, while the handling of wood waste for incineration in power plants for energy generation increased slightly. The location remains confident; heavy cargo exports for the Friesenbrücke bridge and exports of transformer platforms for wind farms by Meyer Werft are expected in 2024.

The port balance in Stade is negative with a throughput of 3.76 million tons in maritime transport (5.11 million tons in 2022). The handling volume of solid bulk goods fell by 40 % to around 1.98 million tons (3.28 million tons in 2022). The handling of chemical products fell by 4% to 1.74 million tons (1.81 million tons in 2022). In the wake of the energy crisis, combined with increased costs for natural gas, energy-intensive industries in particular have drastically cut back their production. A significant recovery is expected in 2024, with local industry planning to ramp up production again despite energy costs that are not competitive by international standards. The predicted turnover of construction materials and the commissioning of the FSRU (Floating Storage and Regasification Units) make us optimistic about the future.

Despite a decline, the seaport of Wilhelmshaven remains at a high level within the port group with a handling volume of 30.97 million tons in 2023 (-4 % / 32.29 million tons in 2022). Growth was generated here for liquid bulk goods (+ 4 % / 23.33 million tons in 2023; 22.51 million tons in 2022). Handling at the liquid bulk terminal contributed significantly to the positive result. In 2023, 45 ship calls were registered with a total of approx. 7 million m² of LNG, enabling around 3.6 million households to be supplied with natural gas.

Solid bulk cargo throughput fell from around 3.79 million tons in 2022 to around 2.33 million tons in 2023. Coal throughput decreased from 3.15 million tons in 2022 to 1.79 million tons in 2023. General cargo throughput totalled around 5.31 million tons (-11% / 5.99 million tons in 2022). The decline in container handling is reflected here (-22.2% / 531,637 TEU in 2023 / 683,395 in 2022). With around 36,200 vehicles handled in 2023, this cargo segment developed very positively (9,298 vehicles in 2022). A further increase is expected for 2024. 

Copyright: Andreas Burmann

Michaela Stolper