The Port of Dunkerque is France’s biggest port on the North Sea, with annual cargo traffic over 57 million tons carried by 7066 vessels in 2007. It is France’s top port for imports of coal and ore, fruits, and copper, and it is the country’s second port for trade with Great Britain.
New French regulations were published in 2008 that replaces the traditional port authorities with the Main Seaports. The Main Seaport of Dunkerque, a publicly-owned State enterprise, now manages the Port of Dunkerque.
Dunkirk’s Western Port is directly open to the sea and can accommodate the largest container vessels and bulk carriers of 300 thousand DWT with draughts to 20 meters. Covering more than 200 hectares, it contains the container and roll-on/roll-off terminals. The Western Bulk Terminal specializes in serving large ore tankers and colliers to 180 thousand tons and has the capacity to handle about 10 million tons of cargo per year.
The Western Port’s Container Terminal is currently undergoing expansion efforts and will soon be able to accommodate post-Panamax vessels. By 2009, it will be able to berth the world’s largest container ships. The Roll-on/Roll-off Terminal reached a new record of over 12 million tons of cargo, with 560 thousand trucks and trailers and 575 thousand passenger vehicles moving through the terminal in 2007. Dunkirk’s Western Port contains over 100 thousand square meters of warehouse space and is offering 200 hectares for sale or rent.
The Central Port in the Port of Dunkerque is connected to the sea by the Charles de Gaulle lock and can accommodate ships with draught of 14.2 meters. Dunkirk’s Central Port contains several industries, with terminals dedicated to petrochemicals, grains, steel, and bulk cargoes. It is the reception point for raw materials for the ArcelorMittal iron and steel plant. Two important petrochemical plants are located in the central port. The terminal can berth seven million tons of crude oil. In 2007, the refinery handled 9.7 million tons of crude and other refined products. A nearby steam-cracking unit has wharves to move refined or gas petroleum products that processed about 1.6 million tons in 2007.
The Port of Dunkerque has a dedicated terminal in the Central Port dedicated to steel coils, plates, reels, and slabs and serves the nearby ArcelorMittal iron and steel plant. Recently equipped to handle cargoes moving between Dunkirk and Wallonia’s iron and steel plants, the terminal’s cranes can lift 45 tons. The Central Port at Dunkirk also contains a Grain Terminal with storage capacity for 500 thousand tons of agricultural produce. In 2007, about 550 thousand tons of corn and barley were exported through the terminal, and 230 thousand tons of corn were imported.
The ArcelorMittal Terminal can berth five ore tankers with capacity for 130 DWT and 14.2 meters draft at its 1600 meter long quay. In 2007, the terminal imported 13.7 million tons of ore and coal. The Multi-bulk Terminals are supplemental sites for receiving ore and coal. The Nord Broyage Company installed a crushing unit and is expected to import 500 thousand tons of clinkers a year. Multi-bulk terminals can handle solid bulk traffic through the Central Port amounting to about 3.4 million tons in addition to a wide variety of products ranging from lime and animal feed to coke, ferro-alloys, and sand and gravel.
Dunkirk’s Eastern Port is accessible through the Charles de Gaulle and Watier locks and can accommodate vessels to 130 thousand DWT. Terminals here serve general cargo and specialized cargoes of liquid bulk, sugar, and cement. It also contains the ship repair yard. Liquid bulk facilities in the Eastern Port, operated by the Societe de Raffinage de Dunkerque (SRD), handled over 1.4 million tons of petroleum products in 2007. The SRD specializes in manufacturing was, bitumen, and lubricating oils.
In Dunkirk’s Eastern Port, the Rubis Terminal Storage company (RTS) handled 1.2 million tons of liquid bulk in 2007 in its specialized terminal. RTS is diversifying to handle biofuels cargoes in addition to its current traffic of sugar molasses, chemicals, and petroleum products. The Eastern Port also contains the ship repair yard, servicing 154 ships in 2007. The yard’s dry docks can berth ships of 180 thousand DWT. It also has a floating dock with repair quays of 650 meters.
The Port of Dunkerque’s warehouses are located next to the terminals, and Dunkirk offers over 100 thousand square meters of warehouse space. The port has direct connections to Europe’s highway network and to a rail network linking eastern France with Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. The Dunkirk-Valenciennes canal carries convoys of 3600 DWT barges, connecting to canal networks throughout Europe and Belgium. Barges of 600 tons can travel canals to Paris and traders have several options for the transport of containers by canal to inland ports.