Port of Barcelona fastest-growing European portStaff Writer | January 30, 2018
In 2017 the Port of Barcelona recorded its best results yet in the main traffic indicators, figures that allowed it to take a quantum leap to become the fastest-growing European port.
Shipping The excellent behaviour of container traffic
This result contributed significantly to the excellent behaviour of container traffic, one of the most strategic segments of activity for the Port and also a more representative marker of the surrounding economy. Nearly 3 million TEU1 (specifically 2,968,757 TEU) were moved in 2017, representing an increase of 32.3%.
A very significant factor in this increase was transhipment containers (+137%), which are those unloaded from one ship to be reloaded onto another for final shipment.
Although this activity does not impact directly on the economy of the Port’s surrounding economy, it does help to make stowage operations more competitive and to provide greater connectivity for the region’s importers and exporters.
Containers for foreign trade also performed very well. Containerised import cargo stood at 561,103 TEU (+8.3%) and export cargo (the most significant in volume terms, at 705,204 TEU) was up 2.6%.
These figures also indicate a significant degree of recovery compared to pre-crisis levels. Reactivation of traffic in export containers had already begun in 2010, but it is worth noting that in 2017 the Port of Barcelona channelled 68% more of this type of cargo than in 2007.
It is also very significant that last year the all-time record for import containers, which was established in 2007, was surpassed for the first time. Specifically, the Catalan port channels 3% more import containerised cargo than it did ten years ago.
China continues to be the Port of Barcelona’s prime trading partner, both in terms of imports (44.3% of foreign trade containers unloaded in the Catalan facility come from the Asian giant), and exports (since it receives 11.6% of the containers leaving the Port).
The remaining trading partners of the Port, and the type of products channelled, are highly diversified.
In 2017 liquid bulk transport also hit a record high at the Port, with a total of 14.4 million tonnes of goods transported (mainly hydrocarbons) marking an increase of 27% year on year. They would point to the growth in specific products such as natural gas (+64%), gasoline (+30%) and chemicals (+23%). 1 A TEU is equivalent to one twenty-foot container.
In the case of dry bulk, with 4.4 million tonnes of goods handled, and an increase of around 1%, soya beans (+10%) and cereals and meal (+13%) experienced the most positive development).
The Port channelled 393,601 intermodal transport units (UTI) of Ro-Ro traffic (embarked by truck, platform or trailer), marking an increase of 6.2%.
This section includes goods transported to the Balearic and Canary Islands, but also freight travelling on the motorways of the sea (regular services between Barcelona and various destinations in Italy and North Africa).
Barcelona channelled a total of 144.723 UTI (+7%) via the motorways of the sea (or short sea shipping services), resulting in an identical number of trucks diverted from the road to the maritime mode, which is more efficient both economically and environmentally.
Traffic on the motorways of the sea also hit a new record for the Port and contributes significantly to boosting sustainable logistics chains in the Mediterranean area.
During 2017 the Port of Barcelona channelled a total of 837,273 vehicles, down 8.7% year on year. It should be noted that Spanish vehicle production and exports also declined last year, which can be seen in the Port’s vehicle traffic results
Even so, Barcelona remains the leading port within the Spanish port system in terms of movement of vehicles.
As regards passenger figures, for the first time in its history the Port of Barcelona moved more than 4 million people, comprising ferry passengers (1.4 million) and cruise-goers (2.7 million).
The total number of passengers increased by 4.5%, caused mainly by the increase in ferry passengers (+12%). Cruise passenger numbers increased by 1%. It is important to stress that in the months considered as the “low” season (January, February, March, November and December) cruise passenger numbers were up 13%, while in the remaining months there was a decrease of 2%.
As for the economic results of the Port of Barcelona in 2017, net turnover was €167 million, up 7% year on year, due mainly to increased revenue from the upturn in activity.
At the provisional close of the financial year, the Port recorded a profit of €50 million (+50%). It is also worth noting the Port’s ability to generate cash flow, which, at €99 million, was up 15% on the previous year.
In 2017, the Port of Barcelona managed to cut significantly the long-term debt contracted with the European Investment Bank (EIB). It reduced its debt by 8%, which now stands at €281.1 million.
Regarding the consolidated economic results (Port of Barcelona, CILSA, World Trade Center Barcelona and Port Vell), net turnover amounted to €215.6 million (+8%), while profits stood at 58.4 million (+45%). ■