Economic situation and war in Ukraine impact on forecast for the ports

The downturn in the global economy and the economic impact of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine meant challenges for the ports of Bremen in 2022.  In the third year of the Coronavirus pandemic, the ports again suffered from the disruptions in global supply chains, caused first and foremost by the Chinese “zero-Covid policy”. Moreover, the sanctions against Russia and the effects of the war are also obstructing the global flow of goods and container logistics.

“The quays and terminals in Bremen and Bremerhaven are essential for the German economy. This was once again demonstrated very clearly in recent months by the energy crisis as a consequence of the Russian attack on Ukraine and the continuing severe impact of the pandemic,” said Dr Claudia Schilling, Senator for Science and Ports. “But despite all these challenges, the port and logistics industry, just like the employees on board the vessels and at the docks, ensured supplies to the German and European population during these difficult times. And we, as the Federal Land of Bremen, will continue to satisfy our responsibility for the ports of Bremen by equipping the quays and terminals to cope with future requirements.”


Significant increase in cruise shipping

Based on assessments by the Senator for Science and Ports, Bremen and Bremerhaven are expected to report a decline in seaborne freight of 64.5 million tons (minus 7.4 per cent) in 2022. The total throughput forecast for 2022 breaks down into throughput at the port facilities in Bremen-City, which handled 12.2 million tons (minus 5.4 per cent), and in Bremerhaven at 52.4 million tons (minus 7.9 per cent). The downturn in throughput in Bremerhaven is due to the decline in container throughput, which amounted to 47.3 million tons (minus 8.5 per cent). The number of containers, expressed as standard containers (TEU), decreased to 4.6 million TEU, a year-on-year decrease of 8.1 per cent.

Automobile handling in the year 2022 is expected to reach a figure of 1.6 million vehicles (minus 4.4 per cent). The main reason for this decline is the disruption in supply chains. The impact of the war is particularly apparent in the figures for bulk goods:  compared with just under 650,000 tons of coal and 914,000 tons of refined petroleum products in traffic to and from Russia in 2019, during the first ten months of 2022 these figures dropped to 101,000 tons of coal and 311,000 tons of refined petroleum products.

The trend for cruise shipping in Bremerhaven was highly satisfactory. 110 vessels called at the terminal, an increase of 190 per cent compared with 2021, a year which suffered very severely from the Coronavirus pandemic. The terminal handled almost 232,000 passengers and thus almost reached the pre-pandemic level again. This was an increase of 346 per cent compared with 2021.


Plan for the future

Despite the downturn in seaborne freight throughput, the railway is again expected to be the strongest transport mode for container hinterland traffic again in 2022. The Senator for Science and ports welcomes this positive result not only from the point of view of climate protection, but also as one of the tangible successes of the port policies implemented by Bremen’s current government: in addition to the extension of the terminal railway network, the major project “Construction of a new Columbus Quay” (80 million euros) is in progress, the western quay at Kaiserhafen III (32.7 million euros) and Quay 66 (17.7 million euros) have been completed and the Senate has also resolved to refurbish Kalihafen, the former potash port.

Senator Schilling stated, “Since 2019 we have invested unprecedented sums to renew the port infrastructure and thus ensure that the ports of Bremen remain internationally competitive in years to come. Our plan for the future is set out in the new Port Development Concept 2035, which enjoys the support of all major players in the port and logistics business. We will show that we mean business by investing 50 million euros a year to equip our port facilities to cope with new challenges. Ports are the driving force of the Germany economy, and that is why we, together with the other German coastal states, are demanding that the federal government assumes more financial responsibility for the German seaports. Moreover, it is vital that the adjustment of the Outer Weser fairway, which is of central importance for the container terminal, is implemented as soon as possible.”

The plans for key future projects, such as the development of Container Terminal CTI to IIIa, the target of becoming a climate-neutral port location by the year 2035 and of evolving into a hub for the energy transition, are making good progress: amongst other things, the results of the study to assess the potential of the southern part of Fischereihafen and on the subject of hydrogen will be presented within the next few months. Senator Schilling added, “We will make enormous investments in our ports over the coming decade. The port policies are on the right track to overcome these challenges.”

Throughput forecast for the ports in 2022

The Senator for Science and Ports, Bremen 2022
  2021 2022 Change in %
Total throughput in 1000 tons 69,695 64,514 -7.4
Bremerhaven in 1000 tons 56,839 52,357 -7.9
Bremen in 1000 tons 12,856 12,157 -5.4
Bulk goods in 1000 tons 9,679 9,094 -6.0
General cargo (non-containerised) in 1000 tons 8,377 8,16 -2.6
General cargo (containerised) in 1000 tons 51,639 47,261 -8.5
TEU in 1000 5,019 4,614 -8.1
Cars in 1000 1,718 1,643 -4.4
Cruise vessels 38 110 189.5
Passengers 52,069 232,299 346.1