Port of Antwerp
Port Commerce

The Antwerp Port Authority is responsible for the operations of the Port of Antwerp. Striving to improve the Port of Antwerp's competitive position and to ensure top performance and high-quality services in the Port of Antwerp, the Port Authority develops the port over the long term promotes transport modes that protect the environment.

Port of Antwerp International NV (PAI) is a subsidiary of the Port Authority. The PAI enters into collaborative projects in ports around the world. For example, in early 2011, the PAI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Companhia Docas do Espirito Santo (CODESA) (websit in Portuguese) where the signers agreed to collaborate in developing a new deep-sea container port in the Port of Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil.

The Port of Antwerp is a gateway to the European continent. For international freight shipping, the Port of Antwerp is the second busiest port in Europe and the tenth busiest in the in the world. Located centrally in northwest Europe, the Port of Antwerp is ideally situated with connections with Europe's major industrial centers and consumer markets.

In 2010, the Port of Antwerp handled a total of 178.2 million tons of cargo carried by almost 14.8 thousand vessels. This included 117.4 million ton of general cargo, 60.8 million tons of bulk cargo, 8.5 million TEUs of containerized cargo (containing 102.5 million tons), and 3.7 million tons roll-on/roll-off cargoes. The 178.2 million total tons of cargo included 19.8 million tons of dry bulk, 41 million tons of liquid bulk, and 11.1 million tons of conventional general cargo.

General cargoes were dominated by iron and steel (6.5 million tons), fruit (1.3 million tons), and paper and cellulose (1.0 million tons). Other general cargoes included granite, wood, flour, and sugar. Bulk cargoes were dominated by petroleum derivatives (25 million tons), chemicals (10.8 million tons), coal (5.1 million tons), petroleum (4.7 million tons), fertilizers (4.7 million tons), ores (3.3 million tons), sand and gravel (1.5 million tons), and cereals (1.2 million tons).

For cargo going to overseas destinations, the Port of Antwerp's major trading partners were the United States, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Russia.

Almost one-fourth of all containers (2 million TEUs or 23.9% of all containers) traveled through the Port of Antwerp to/from Europe. Almost two million containers (1.8 million TEUs or 21.3% of all containers) traveled to/from the Near East. Over 1.3 million TEUs (15.5% of all containers) traveled to/from the Middle and Far East, and 1.6 million TEUs (19.3% of all containers) traveled through the Port of Antwerp to/from North and Central America. Of the four million containers leaving the Port of Antwerp, 37% were loaded back onto ocean-going vessels, 12% were delivered to companies within the Port of Antwerp, 16% were sent into Belgium, and 35% were delivered to neighboring countries.

Of the 85.9 million tons of cargo traveling by barge to the Port of Antwerp's hinterlands, 28.6 million tons was petroleum and petroleum products, 22.8 million tons was containerized cargo, and 13.7 million tons was chemicals. Other cargoes traveling by barge to the hinterlands included raw minerals, building materials, solid fuels, metal ware, fertilizers, ore and metal waste, foodstuffs and fodder, and machinery, vehicles, and other goods. A small amount of agricultural products and live animals were also transported by barge. Much of the cargo leaving the Port of Antwerp for its hinterlands went to the Netherlands (40.4 million tons), Belgium (20.9 million tons), and Germany (19.1 million tons). Goods also went by barge from the Port of Antwerp to France (3.4 million tons) and Switzerland (1.5 million tons).

The Port of Antwerp is home to over 200 freight forwarding companies. Many stevedoring companies serve almost 15 thousand ocean-going vessels and 57 thousand barges each year. The Port of Antwerp offers 160 kilometers (258 miles) of quays and more than 5.4 million square meters (1.3 thousand acres) of covered storage space. In fact, the Port of Antwerp has more covered storage than all other ports in northwest Europe combined.

The Port of Antwerp's storage space contains many specialized warehouses that hold grain, plastics, cement, quartz, coffee, wine, sand, tobacco, cocoa and tea, forest products, and China clay. Reefer tanks hold fruit juices. Refrigerated warehouses store meat, fish, whale oils, tropical fruit, dairy products, and fats. Specialized tanks are available for petroleum products and chemicals. The Port of Antwerp also offers warehouse facilities that meet demanding temperature and ventilation requirements and, for dangerous cargoes, that comply with Europe's strictest regulations for fire prevention and control, employee safety, and environmental protection.

The Port of Antwerp boasts the best logistical services among European seaports. Many multi-national companies have established depots within the Port of Antwerp and carry out their distribution activities from there. The Port of Antwerp offers many companies that support cargo distribution with services that include preassembly, stock control, labeling, after-sales service, quality control, and maintenance. Port of Antwerp freight handlers also provide sophisticated electronic tracking systems to assure efficient logistics chain management.

  • Container terminals

As much as three-fourths (75%) of all conventional and breakbulk cargo is carried by containers. The Port of Antwerp is the world's 14th biggest port for container freight. The Port of Antwerp has modern specialist container terminals on the docks and on the Scheldt. The Port of Antwerp has made significant investments in assuring a stable infrastructure and high-tech container terminals.

The Port of Antwerp is about 80 kilometers (129 miles) inland from the North Sea on the River Scheldt, representing a competitive advantage by being located nearer the European consumer markets.

The first terminal at Deurganck dock on the Scheldt's left bank opened in 2005, doubling the Port of Antwerp's container-handling capacity. The dock is 450 meters (1476 feet) wide with a quay length of 5.3 kilometers (8.5 miles) long. PSA HNN operates the entire west side of the Deurganck dock, and DP World operates the Antwerp Gateway Terminal on the east side of the dock.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Home Terminal is located on the south side of the Delwaide dock (on the right bank of the River Scheldt). The quay length of the terminal is 2.9 kilometers (4.7 miles), making it possible to serve many ships at the same time. The terminal is equipped with 21 ship-to-shore cranes and 124 straddle carriers. The MSC Home Terminal in the Port of Antwerp can handle up to 4.1 million TEUs each year. Making over 1400 calls per year, MSC is easily the biggest shipping line in the Port of Antwerp.

The Port of Antwerp's two oldest tidal terminals have been operating since 1990 and 1996. Together, they have capacity to handle 3.7 million TEUs per year. They are the Noordzee Terminal and the Europa Terminal, both operated by PSA HNN. Until the Delwaide dock was renovated and the Deurganck dock was expanded, these two terminals on the River Scheldt were the Port of Antwerp's foundation for handling containers.

  • Bulk and breakbulk terminals

The Port of Antwerp's role in importing raw materials continues to grow in importance. Transshipping over 17.4 million tons of dry bulk cargoes per year, the Port of Antwerp is among Europe's most important bulk ports. The bulk terminals in the Port of Antwerp are consistent high-performance facilities. With the Port of Antwerp's central location and extensive connections with its hinterlands, it is a major point for the import and distribution of bulk cargoes throughout Western Europe.

To take advantage of its position, the Port of Antwerp has developed a multi-modal platform for bulk cargoes that uses all transportation modes to serve the hinterlands. The Port of Antwerp handles a wide variety of bulk freight that includes coal, iron ore, non-ferrous concentrates, minerals, cement, fertilizers, and China clay.

The Port of Antwerp's main bulk terminals offer total quay length of 3.8 kilometers (6.1 miles) that serve both capesize and panamax vessels.

The Port of Antwerp offers a total of over 1.4 million square meters (353.3 acres) of open and closed storage space for bulk cargoes that can be easily extended.

  • Oil / Liquid terminals

The Port of Antwerp has almost 1.5 thousand tanks with total capacity for over 3.6 million cubic meters (30.2 million barrels) of storage for liquid bulk cargoes. This includes stainless steel tanks with capacity for 164.1 thousand cubic meters (1.4 million barrels).

The Port of Antwerp is a leading port for the distribution of chemicals in Europe. Huge volumes of crude oil come to Port of Antwerp refineries by direct pipeline connected with Rotterdam. A 330-kilometer (almost 484-mile) network of underground pipelines ensures the safe, efficient, and cost-effective movement of liquids in the Port of Antwerp.

The liquid bulk terminals in the Port of Antwerp handle all kinds of liquid bulk and gas and offer specialized equipment like carbon fibre tanks for storing chemicals and petroleum derivatives, stainless steel tanks for sensitive materials, heated and cooled tanks, and coated tanks. The Port of Antwerp also has spherical tanks for storing gases under pressure, fully-automated storage for oil drums and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), and stainless steel reactors.

The Port of Antwerp also has specialized storage for dangerous cargoes. These facilities are equipped with the latest equipment for fire-fighting and fire safety, worker safety, and environmental protection. Fireproof partitions separate ventilated storage compartments, and foam and sprinkler systems are present throughout the facilities. All equipment is explosion-proof, and all floors are impermeable.

Six companies in the Port of Antwerp provide specialized storing, handling, and repackaging of plastic granulates. Throughout the Port of Antwerp are storage facilities with capacity for 300 thousand cubic meters (2.5 million barrels) of granulates.

The Port of Antwerp is Europe's biggest and most diverse petrochemical center. Seven of the world's ten biggest chemical companies have at least one production site within the Port of Antwerp's petrochemical cluster. The base of the cluster contains five refineries that include three smaller Petroplus specialist facilities and two world-class refineries owned by ExxonMobil and Total.

The five refineries in the Port of Antwerp have a primary distillation capacity for over 40 million tons per year. The two large refineries are connected to the Rotterdam-Antwerp Pipeline, and crude oil is also delivered to the Port of Antwerp by ship and barge. Downstream from the refineries, four facilities crack naphtha into ethylene and propylene for the petrochemical industry.

Companies in the Port of Antwerp's petrochemical cluster are connected by over 100 pipelines that provide for 52% of all transport between the companies and between industrial operations and independent storage tank companies. Five pipeline tunnels connect the River Scheldt's left and right banks and ensure that locally-produced products like chlorine, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen can be safely and effectively distributed within the Port of Antwerp.

  • Ro/Ro terminals

Except for containers, the Port of Antwerp handled 3.7 million tons of roll-on/roll-off cargo in 2010. Most of the ro-ro vessels that use the Port of Antwerp are served on the River Scheldt's left bank at the Verrebroek and Vrasene docks.

The Port of Antwerp is a leader for the export of second-hand cars and for trucks. It is also a short-sea hub for automobile imports from across Europe. In addition to cars, the Port of Antwerp handles machinery, project cargo, heavy equipment, and rolling stock.

The Port of Antwerp offers pre-delivery inspection services that allow cars to be ready for delivery to dealers and auto rental companies.

  • Cruise terminals

While the Port of Antwerp is primarily used for cargo, there are also facilities that serve cruise vessels and marinas for yachts on both banks of the River Scheldt. Thousands of cruise passengers visit the Port of Antwerp every year. Many cruise ships moor at the Port of Antwerp's new cruise terminal on the Scheldt. Hundreds of river cruise ships also moor at the docks.

The River Scheldt is so large that big ocean-going cruise vessels can easily sail into the city's port. The cruise ships berth just 200 meters (656 feet) from the city's medieval center. The terminal contains two main areas covering 1510 square meters (16.2 acres) with all facilities on one floor (e.g., luggage handling, security, passenger lounge).

  • Stevedores

The Port of Antwerp is multi-faceted. The Flemish dockers are known for their variety of skills and their flexibility. Their contributions allow the Port of Antwerp to load, unload, and store all types of cargo safely and efficiently. With state-of-the-art cargo-handling techniques and its highly-trained workforce, the Port of Antwerp is able to offer consistent quality service continuously all day and night through the entire year.

  • Tug boat operators

In addition to the services of the Antwerp Port Authority, two companies provide tugs in the Port of Antwerp: URS and Antwerp Towage Company. The port authority has a fleet of nine tugs.

URS has been providing towage and salvage services for ports on the River Scheldt since 1870. The company specializes in coastal and river escort, offshore operations, special shipping, and salvage. URS has a fleet of 31 harbor tugs that support the Port of Antwerp as well as the ports of Ghent, Terneuzen, Flushing, Ostend, and Zeebrugge.

URS provides a fleet of 11 relatively new highly-maneuverable harbor tugs in the Port of Antwerp. More powerful tugs serve the tidal container terminals (North Sea, Europe Container, and Deurganckdock) where they serve vessels greater than 300 meters (984 feet) LOA.

Antwerp Towage is a joint venture between Fairplay Towage (Germany) and Multraship (Belgium) that serves all river terminals and locks in the Port of Antwerp area along the River Scheldt. While the Port Authority provides towage services "behind the locks," Antwerp Towage provide services "before the locks." The company provides state-of-the-art tugboats that can handle modern container ships and experienced crews that ensure quality and effective towage services.

  • Rail and intermodal connections

The Port of Antwerp is a modern multi-modal port that offers a variety of transshipment-related services. With the goal of expanding its services, the Master Plan for the Port of Antwerp includes adding a second rail link between the banks of the Scheldt in the port area and updating the Royers and Van Cauwelaert locks to improve barge traffic. Further, the Port of Antwerp plans to close the last gap in the ring of roads around the port.

In 2010, one-fifth of all cargoes through the Port of Antwerp were transshipments. Almost a third of all cargoes (29%) were transported by road, and 23% was transferred to inland shipping. Seven percent of all cargo was transported by rail and 3% by pipeline. Finally, 18% of all cargoes were handled directly by industry.

Every year, more than 30 million tons of cargo move through the Port of Antwerp by rail. Over 250 trains arrive or depart the Port of Antwerp every day. Port of Antwerp open-access infrastructure includes 1100 (700 miles) of rail tracks, 22 public rail sidings, and rail links to every terminal in the Port of Antwerp.

Located in the Scheldt-Maas-Rhine delta area, the Port of Antwerp offers inland waterway connections of 1500 kilometers (2419 miles) within Belgium that link to Europe's waterway networks. In the past, barges were traditionally used to carry bulk cargoes like oil products, ore, and coal. Today, barges carry a variety of finished products that include bagged cargo, palletized goods, and chemicals. Today, barges are appropriate for all types of dry and liquid cargoes.

Barge transport is a major component of the Port of Antwerp's multi-modal transport, and the volume of cargo carried by barge continues to increase every year. The Seine-Scheldt connection will be part of the Trans-European Network and will bring the northern France region into the Port of Antwerp's market coverage.

Almost a third of all container traffic through the Port of Antwerp travels by barge, and that proportion has been increasing since the Deurganck dock opened. Container barges can carry from 20 to 500 TEUs, and pusher convoys can handle more than that. Modern container barges are increasingly important to Port of Antwerp shipping.

The network of inland container terminals is a major factor in the Port of Antwerp's growth. Regular container services link the Port of Antwerp to over 60 destinations within Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and the Rhine-Danube region. Further, the use of barges to transport cargo within the Port of Antwerp is becoming increasingly important. The Antwerp Port Authority includes barge transport in its general policy framework.

Roads contribute greatly to the Port of Antwerp's transportation network, particularly with the hinterlands. Thousands of truck enter and leave the Port of Antwerp every day, traveling between terminals, warehouses, and industrial facilities. With a central European location, the Port of Antwerp is easily accessible by road, especially for the industrial region of Wallonia and the ports in Zeebrugge and Ghent.

A concentration of road haulage companies is located in and near the Port of Antwerp. These companies offer a wide range of services that allow flexibility in handling even the most unique and specialized cargoes. Many of the companies offer logistics services in addition to transport. Additional services include storage, localization, integration, and door-to-door services. Many companies also provide customs clearance services as well.

  • Port services

The Port of Antwerp offers expert piloting services for ship masters using the port. The Port of Antwerp Pilot service coordinates the flow of all traffic on the River Scheldt.

Flemish Pilotage was created in early 2001 as a highly-autonomous government agency. Flemish Pilotage offers experts in navigating and maneuvering ships in an area that includes the Scheldt estuary, Duinkerke approach, upstream on the River Scheldt to Temse, the Ghent-Terneuzen canal, and the Ghent docks. Flemish pilots cover 400 nautical miles (740 kilometers) of waterways, five ports, ten sea locks, and innumerable mooring sites. Pilots are highly-qualified captains with college degrees in nautical science, and they have wide-ranging maritime careers. Working in shifts, they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Within the Port of Antwerp, BRABO provides dock pilots that help with piloting, mooring, and unmooring. BRABO covers 25 thousand shifts each year moving vessels between locks and berths.

The Harbourmaster's Office manages shipping traffic within the Port of Antwerp, maintains public safety and environmental protection, and ensures compliance with the relevant laws and regulations, particularly those related to transporting dangerous goods.

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