Port of Rotterdam in full transition in 2023
2024-02-21 12:21

Port of Rotterdam in full transition in 2023

Less throughput, manifest progress on sustainable port

Last year saw major investment decisions that are contributing to making the port and the logistics chain to and from Rotterdam more sustainable. The financial results were stable, putting the Port Authority in a position to commit to further investments for a future-resilient port in the years to come as well.

Total cargo throughput in the port of Rotterdam this year amounted to 438.8 million tonnes, 6.1% less than in 2022 (467.4 million tonnes). The fall was mainly seen in coal throughput, containers and other dry bulk. Throughput rose in the agribulk, iron ore & scrap, and LNG segments.

  • Cargo throughput down by 6.1% due to ongoing geopolitical unrest, low economic growth and high inflation
  • Manifest progress on making industry and logistics chain more sustainable: investment decision made for Porthos, construction of national hydrogen network initiated, new shore power connections in place, land reclamation for Princess Alexiahaven started
  • Key developments in container segment: investment decisions made for expansion of container terminals by APMT and RWG, - - - Container Exchange Route (CER) officially opened, Nextlogic operational, widening of Yangtzekanaal started
  • Stable financial result for Port of Rotterdam Authority
  • Port of Rotterdam investment level continues high

Boudewijn Siemons, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority: ‘2023 saw ongoing geopolitical unrest, low economic growth due to higher interest rates and faltering global trade, all of which had a logical effect on throughput in the port of Rotterdam. However, the year also saw many major investment decisions and milestones in the transition to a sustainable port. We made the final investment decision for the construction of the CO2 transport and storage project, Porthos. Construction work also began on the national hydrogen network in the port of Rotterdam. And we celebrated a number of significant developments in the logistics segment this year, such as the announcement of the expansions of the APMT and RWG container terminals, and the opening of the CER. All these developments will take us a step closer to a successful and future-resilient port and industrial complex.’

Creating economic value


The Port Authority has had a stable year financially. Revenue rose by 1.9% to € 841.5 million, consisting mainly of contract revenue from land lease, and port dues. As a result of price changes and new contracts, contract revenue rose by € 28.4 million. Revenue from port dues fell by € 4.6 million due to a combination of lower throughput and a higher price per tonne. Operating expenses increased by 3.8% (€ 10.7 million) to € 292.9 million because of higher payroll expenses and overhead. The operating result before interest, depreciation and taxes (EBITDA) rose on balance by 0.9% to € 548.6 million. The net result was 5.6% (€ 13.7 million) down at € 233.5 million (2022: € 247.2 million). The lower net result was attributable to two one-off items in 2023. Acquired nitrogen deposition rights were revalued downward (€ 8.0 million) in response to the ruling from the Council of State relating to the 25-kilometre cut-off. In addition, the Porthos guarantee premium (€ 7.3 million) was booked, leading to a lower result for participating interests. Furthermore, interest expenses in 2023 were € 6.8 million higher because of higher interest rates than in 2022. The dividend proposal for the shareholders (the Municipality of Rotterdam and the Dutch State) was € 129.0 million (2021: € 132.3 million).

The Port Authority invested a total of € 295.4 million, almost 15% more than in 2022 (€ 257.0 million). The largest investments in 2023 were the investments in quay walls for the container sector (€ 72.9 million), land reclamation for the Prinses Alexiahaven (€ 23.1 million) and the fendering in the Rozenburg lock (€ 12.8 million).

Containers and break bulk

Container throughput in tonnes was 6.8% lower in 2023 at 130.1 million tonnes; the fall in TEUs was 7.0% to 13.4 million TEU. Container throughput has proved to be very volatile in recent years in response to COVID and geopolitical developments. The decline that began in 2022 continued in 2023. The main reasons are lower consumption, lower production in Europe and the discontinuation of volumes to and from Russia pursuant to the sanctions. Port calls in the container segment were up slightly by 1.0%. However, container ship cargoes were 7.8% lower. Roll-on/roll-off traffic (RoRo) fell by 5.0% to 25.9 million tonnes. The weak British economy and lagging consumption continue to be the main causes. The 15,1% fall in other break bulk is largely attributable to the decline in container rates, which fell sharply in 2023, resulting in more cargo being shipped in containers rather than as break bulk. In addition, disappointing demand in Europe due to inflation and rising interest rates meant that many stocks were left in breakbulk terminals for long periods of time, leaving less room for additional cargo acquisition.

Investments in port development

Expansion of container terminals by APMT and RWG Container Terminals APM Terminals and Rotterdam World Gateway (RWG) have announced plans to expand their terminals in the Princess Amaliahaven in 2023. The APMT expansion covers a site of some 47.5 hectares, including a deep-sea quay with a total length of one kilometre. It will add about two million TEUs in terminal capacity. The completion of the quay is planned for the second half of 2024. At RWG, the expansion involves about 45 hectares of terminal land and 920 metres of quay wall, increasing RWG’s capacity by 1.8 million TEUs in phases. Both terminals will be prepared for the use of shore power and will operate in carbon-neutral ways.

Container Exchange Route (CER)

The CER went into operation in late 2023. The 17-kilometre closed road network currently connects the container terminals of Rotterdam World Gateway (RWG), the Delta terminal of Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam (ECT), the terminals and depots of QTerminals Kramer Rotterdam (KDD, RCT and DCS) and the State Inspection Terminal of the Customs Authority. The CER is making a major contribution to security, integrity, efficiency and sustainability in the Port of Rotterdam.

Nextlogic operational

After an intensive pilot phase, the green light was given for Nextlogic in January 2023. Nextlogic will allow for the faster handling of inland container vessels and the optimal utilisation of quays. Several parties were scaled up last year, resulting in 1 million container moves being processed and time spent in the port falling by over 20%.

Widening of the Yangtzekanaal

In the years to come, more and increasingly larger container vessels will pass through the Yangtzekanaal to the Maasvlakte terminals. To provide more space for the current vessels and also to allow the ever-larger vessels to pass each other properly, the navigable channel of the Yangtze Canal will be widened along its entire length in the years ahead. The project consists of three subprojects. The first subproject began in September 2023 and it involves the construction of 500 metres of quay immediately alongside the entrance to the port of Rotterdam. Berths, including shore power, are being established at this quay for twelve tugs. Completion and commissioning are planned for early 2025.


Against the backdrop of geopolitical developments and upcoming elections in several countries, 2024 is also expected to be an unpredictable year. It is all the more important in these turbulent times for the port to maintain a steady course and to implement plans that will further the transition. Construction work will begin on Porthos in 2024 and the development of the second conversion facility will continue. Investment decisions are expected for hydrogen plants, bio-refineries, the Maasvlakte-Zuid rail yard and the Princess Alexia Viaduct on the Maasvlakte. Furthermore, new steps are being taken to establish shore power facilities for cruise vessels, container vessels and RoRo vessels, among others. Work will also continue in 2024 on the deployment and availability of new, renewable fuels, and investments will be made in charging infrastructure for electric trucks to meet the expected demand for sustainable road transportation.

Source: Port of Rotterdam