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Dunkirk Port: Traffic Seriously Affected By The Global Pandemic

Friday, 15 January 2021 | 21:00

The port’s annual traffic reached 45.2 MT, dropping sharply by 14% compared with 2019 (52.6 MT). The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on almost every sector in the port: only the traffic in grain (3.3 MT, + 63%), Cross-Channel freight (607,000 units, + 4%) and containers (463,000 TEU, + 2%) continued to rise.

• Liquid bulk dropped sharply from 18% to 7.7 MT. While oil remained stable (3.4 MT), LNG busi- ness fell to 3.5 MT (-20%), following a record year in 2019. In 2020, the LNG terminal berthed 52 vessels. Other traffic fell overall by 24% to 0.8 MT.

• Solid bulk fell very severely by 22% to 18.2 MT. The drastic drop in production at the Dunkerque steel plant (only 1 in 3 blast furnaces in operation for 5 months then 2 in 3 for an additional period of 4 months) logically weighed on traffic in iron ore (8.7 MT, – 34%) and coal (3.6 MT, – 28%). The coal sector also underwent the more structural effect of the drop in
demand for steam coal. The very noticeable drop in “small” solid bulk traffic (2.6 MT, – 13%) 3
reflects the virtual shutdown of the production system during the first lockdown. On the other hand, grain set a new record for traffic in the calendar year with 3.3 MT (+ 63%).
• General cargo dropped slightly by 4% to 19.3 MT. The break-bulk sector was severely affected (0.6 MT, – 50%) due to the drop in exports of steel products. With 607,000 units transported (+ 4%), Cross-Chan- nel freight traffic grew: DFDS maintained the operation of its 3 ships in Dunkerque throughout the year and the sector benefited at the end of the year from over-stocking by British importers. On the other hand, the tourism sector was hit hard by the lockdown and/or quarantine decisions taken during 2020: the number of passengers dropped 54% to 1,077,000 travellers, while the number of passenger cars collapsed by 70% to 173,000 vehicles. Finally, despite a particularly difficult context, containers posted a further increase of 2% to 463,000 TEUs. Over the past 10 years, cumulative growth in the sector has now reached 130%. Full containers increased by 5% to 290,000 TEUs.

Taking into account the economic crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and the anticipation of its consequences on certain traffics (passengers in particular), Dunkerque-Port reduced its 2020 invest- ment budget to €21.6m, from the initially planned figure of €37.7m. The operations for which the works phase was in progress and those which were essential for the development of traffic or the marketing of the port precinct were given priority.


The 2021 investment budget, approved by the Supervisory Board on 20 November 2020, amounted to €51 million.

The year will be devoted to the completion and handover of the major logistics and industrial platforms, at a cost of €13m:
• Completion of development work on the Heavy Industries zone: €8m
• Development work in the Dunkerque International Logistics South zone (platform and south- west access by bridge): €2m
• Finalization of the preparation of the SNF platform: €3m

2021 will also see the start of the first operations of the 2020-2024 Strategic Project costing €19m:
• Extension of the Dry-Port in order to promote connection between terminals and the develop- ment of intermodality: €10m This railway project is eligible for the recovery plan,
• Start of work to replace the RoRo 1 linkspan with the creation of a new RoRo 6 linkspan and the extension and protection of the service port will make it possible to berth a greater number of large ships (study and pre-project phase): €5m,
• Partial filling of the dock between the Grande-Synthe East quay and the QP2 jetty in order to develop the activity of the central port: €4m.

The studies for the CAP 2020 project will continue in the pre-project phase, representing an investment of €4m. The administrative application file to carry out the work will be submitted in the first half of 5 the year.

Other operations dedicated to the development of the Port’s facilities and investments will be carried out for a total amount of €6m (including studies for the future Chemicals and Heavy Industries 2 zones, the inter-industrial road).

Dunkerque-Port will continue its efforts to maintain the follow-on support for its assets, with a major maintenance programme on its facilities (wharves, locks, river structures and upgrading of buildings to standards), for a total cost of €9m.

To implement this investment programme, Dunkerque-Port will once again rely on the support of its partners, in particular the French government and the Hauts-de-France Regional Council within the framework of the State – Region 2020-2022 stimulus package, the European Union, the Dunkerque Metropolitan Authority, and the UKBF.

2020 was a special year for the industrial sector. The health crisis caused a significant slowdown in activity for a majority of players, even if some others on the contrary had a satisfactory year (pro- duction of alcohol for the manufacture of hydro- alcoholic gels for example).
A major halt was to be feared in industrial projects but the positive dynamic is still there.
The region’s wide range assets in terms of equipment, and forward-looking development logic (preparation of platforms, investments in utilities), made it possible to remain competitive and welcome investors who create wealth and jobs.

2020 was therefore marked by several good items of news such as the commissioning of the NORFRIGO warehouse, and at the end of 2020 by the signing of the construction lease for a green hydrogen production plant.

This project is of particularly keen importance for the port and its industry because the hydrogen produced will make it possible, in addition to power to gas activities, to provide an additional solution to Dunkerque manufacturers engaged in the decarbonisation of their business.


2021 should also be particularly dynamic.
In addition to the commissioning of the INDACHLOR site at the start of the year (€ 50 million in invest- 6 ments and 40 direct jobs), several industrial projects should enter the construction phase, including:
• SNF (€160m of investments and 160 direct jobs)
• CLAREBOUT (€120m and 350 direct jobs)

The year will also be good in the logistics sector with:

• The launch of the SDAN warehouse with 43,000 sq. m of floor space
• The extension of the CONHEXA warehouse dedicated to fruit and vegetable logistics
• The start of the administrative examination phase of project for a warehouse with 20,000 sq. m of floor space backed by SAMFI INVEST.

2021 will also be marked by the commissioning of the new electrical substation which has been built on the ZGI turnkey platform.

• 8 January: The CMA CGM Group and Dunkerque-Port inaugurate the port’s shore-to-ship power (SSP) system On 8 January, during a ceremony organized in Dunkerque-Port in the presence of many personalities including Gérard Mulliez who, through his family brands, is the Port of Dunkerque’s foremost customer, the APL SINGAPURA, a container ship of the CMA CGM Group, inaugurated the quayside electrical connection facilities at the Terminal des Flandres in Dunkerque. This innovative system eliminates the emissions from the auxiliary engines of ships at dock, thereby impro- ving air quality and reducing noise pollution. The CMA CGM Group and Dunkerque-Port confirmed their commitment to environmental protection.
• From January 15 to 26: a delegation from Dunkerque visits Colombia
A delegation of elected officials from the region, directors from the Port of Dunkerque, company executives and business representatives went to Bogota (Colombia), for a trade mission, from January 15 to 26. Led by Stéphane Raison, Chairman of the Dunkerque-Port Executive Board and François Lavallee, Chairman of the Littoral Hauts-de-France Chamber of Commerce, the delegation met many companies working in the agricultural and agro-food sector. An event took place on January 21 at the residence of the French Ambassador in Bogota, followed by individual business meetings in Carta- gena and Medellin. In July 2019, the shipping company CMA CGM launched a direct service between the Port of Carta- gena and the Port of Dunkerque with a delivery time of only 13 days. This new weekly service complements the existing solution from Turbo. In so doing, the Port of Dunkerque is consolidating its position as the leading French port for fruit and vegetable imports in containers, by enhancing its logistics tools and local employment in the agri-food sector.
• 18 January: the ZGI Development platform at Dunkerque-Port is selected as a “turnkey” industrial site
As part of the third “Choose France!” summit meeting which began on 18 January 2020, Secretary of State Agnès Pan- nier-Runacher disclosed the names of twelve “turnkey” industrial sites (sites that can host industrial activities and for which the administrative procedures concerning urban planning, rescue archaeology and the environment have been 7
carried out in advance in order to make the sites available immediately or in the short-term for the investor). The list was presented to the executives of the international groups attending the “Choose France!” summit. One of the sites, selected following a call for applications launched by the French government in November 2019 for the regional and local authorities, is the Heavy Industry Zone (ZGI) development platform of Dunkerque-Port. The ZGI covers 125 ha of marketable land, of which 45 ha have already been reserved for food and beverage manufacturers and power providers. The site is described as “turnkey” because Dunkerque-Port has carried out the administrative procedures in advance in order to make the platform immediately available, by being granted the decrees covering “water law”, “protected species” and rescue archaeology regulations.
• From February 5 to 7: Fruit Logistica trade fair, in Berlin (Germany)
The Dunkerque-Port sales team was present at the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin, the international show for the fruit and vegetable sector bringing together 80,000 visitors and 5,000 exhibitors from all over the world.
• On March 4, transfer of wind turbine blades via Freycinet 12.
Dunkerque-Port berthed at Freycinet 12, with BARRA SNM (handler), LEMAIRE (consignment agency) and AUGIZEAU (special consignment), the SS EEMS DUBLIN transporting a first series of 9 wind turbine blades nearly 70 meters long on 4 March. The ship then left to load 9 additional blades in order to store them at the port of Dunkerque pending the deployment of a wind farm in northern France. The arrival of this new manufacturer is an important step which illus- trates the aim of the port of Dunkerque, backed by its readily-available infrastructures and know-how, to become a real hub for the wind power industry, both onshore and offshore.
• On 13 March, Dunkerque confirmed its position as the leading multimodal port in France .The share of alternative modes to road, traditionally above 50%, has reached a new milestone with the boom in pipeline traffic.

2020 was marked by the very high level of activity at the Dunkerque LNG terminal. The 72 port calls by LNG tankers recorded during the year generated traffic of 5.1 MT. The growth of more than 317% in gas volumes has naturally upset the modal breakdown of the port. Transport by pipeline thus reached 34% of the port’s overland route volumes, up 23 points compared with the previous year. River traffic increased by 200 KT, driven by the resumption of grain exports in the second half but also by the good performance of container traffic handled by NORD PORT SHUTTLE (NPS) on the Dunkerque – Lille – Dourges – Valenciennes corridor. Rail traffic, handicapped by a difficult end of the year, fell by 100 KT. Under the effect of the ramp-up in traffic by pipeline, the river and rail modes now post respective shares of 11 and 20% (12 and 29% in 2018). In all, the share of alternative modes to road has now reached 65% of inland transport services from and to the port of Dunkerque. In combined transport, the modal share of river transport has now reached 8% (+ 2 points compared with 2019) while that of rail transport is stable at 2%.
• March, April, May: during the lock-down Dunkerque-Port continued to take action to maintain its business. On 12 March 2020, the French government took a series of major health measures to counter the spread of COVID-19 in the region. Against this background, Dunkerque-Port services (ship services, harbour master’s office, rail and river services, etc.) remained fully operational and fully mobilized. Within a crisis unit, the management team of Dunkerque- Port implemented measures to preserve the health of our employees while allowing port activities to continue. For this reason, the organization of the work of field teams was redesigned in order to avoid any contact between people as much as possible; all port visits and events were cancelled; the use of teleworking was strongly encouraged for most of the workforce and as much as possible. The port’s usual contacts remained reachable for customers and usual activities. Dunkerque-Port ensured the continuity of its short- and deep sea shipping services. All the multimodal services from the container terminal (Terminal des Flandres / TDF) remained operational and the NPS Dunkerque-Lille-Dourges-Valen- ciennes river service as well as the rail services in particular. 8
• The Flanders Terminal in Dunkerque-Port received two new latest-generation gantry cranes on Friday 3 April. They are designed to operate with the largest container ships in the world. This significant investment will allow the container terminal to have 8 gantries on its 1900 meters of quays with 16.5m of draught in all tidal conditions and can simultaneously deploy up to 6 gantries on the largest vessels. Built by world market leader ZPMC, the gantry cranes each weigh 1,700 tonnes, have a reach of 67 meters and a height under spreader of 54m. These gantries have been deployed, among others, on the Asia Europe FAL 1 service of Ocean Alliance (CMA CGM – Evergreen – Cosco – OOCL) which began its stopovers in Dunkerque on 12 May 2020.
• On 12 May, return of the FAL 1. The CMA CGM Georg Forster, a ship of the French Asia Line (FAL 1), of the CMA CGM Group, made its first port call at the Terminal des Flandres. The ship, built in 2015, has a capacity of 17,700 TEUs, including 1,254 reefer sockets.
The Asia-Europe round trip is as follows: Xingang, Pusan, Ningbo, Shanghai, Yantian and Singapore with routing lead- times of 29 days for Shanghai, 26 for Yantian and 22 for Singapore. In the Europe-Asia direction, the ship will also call at Port Kelang in Malaysia before the port of Xingang.
• 14 May. NORFRIGO, the alliance between the seafood specialist, the Boulonnais family group Le Garrec and the European leader in refrigeration logistics.
The STEF group has decided to set up a new cold storage unit in the logistics area of the western port of Dunkerque. The location has the advantage of being close to the Container Terminal and the Border Inspection Post.
Specializing in seafood logistics, the Le Garrec group has always opted to establish its premises in the port area, as in Le Havre with CAP GEL or Boulogne-sur-Mer with NORFRIGO in order to optimize its position with respect to the import / export flows of the sector.

• On June 24, Dunkerque-Port was again awarded PERS certification (Port Environmental Review System) set up by the EcoPorts network.
Specific to the port sector, this environmental management certification issued by the ESPO (European Sea Ports Orga- nization) is designed to certify proper monitoring of the rules and standards in force as well as to reward involvement in steps and initiatives for better port environmental performance. Its renewal for Dunkerque-Port confirms the global action carried out for more than a decade by the port in favour of environmental conservation within the framework of its activities. The new certification hailed in particular the exemplary nature of the redevelopment of brownfield sites, the originality of the manual of environmental recommendations for site set-up by new industrialists as well as the involvement of Dunkerque-Port in the PaQte* program. The financial traceability of environmental operations, the plan- ning and monitoring of the Planning and Sustainable Development Plan (PA2D**) as well as the port’s eco-responsible involvement towards its employees were also fully recognised. The PERS, and its operational version via the PA2D**, demonstrates the intent of Dunkerque-Port to continue to develop its activities through effective and responsible envi- ronmental management, in connection with the European Green Deal. This means work by the port in coming years will focus on supporting innovation for the deployment of the energy transition in the port precinct, in connection with the decarbonisation of the precinct and expanding the circular economy.

* PaQte: Launched in July 2018, the “Neighbourhood pact for all businesses” (PaQte) allows companies to make a contribution to the economic and social development of priority neighbourhoods in city policy.

** PA2D: A voluntary and innovative approach, launched in 2014, the Planning and Sustainable Development Plan (PA2D) for Dunkerque-Port sets the guidelines and objectives for sustainable management of the port in its role as developer and manager of the precinct that it oversees. In line with the Strategic Project, the PA2D
constitutes the matrix of actions undertaken in favour of sustainable development and environmental conservation in line with the 17 sustainable development objec- 9
tives of the United Nations (Global Compact) and the 10 priorities of the ESPO included in PERS certification.

• 25 June: Dunkerque-Port acclaimed by French shipper customers for the quality of its services

The AUTF (*), the French shippers’ trade association (representing importers and exporters from all over France) revea- led its satisfaction index of the shippers’ perception of maritime transport, based on a survey entrusted to Eurogroup Consulting and conducted with around fifty decision- makers. The Port of Dunkerque is clearly approved in the survey: While 41% of the players in the panel are “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with French port communities, this figure reaches 88% for Dunkerque; 80% of them believe that the level of service quality of the port of Dunkerque is improving, while 13% consider it stable. The measures implemented in recent years such as reverse charge VAT, the H24 customs clearance services in advance of unloading, the opening of the Cargo Community System (CCS) and even “the pooling of Terminal Handling Charges (THC)” have been prime movers in the continuous improvement initiative for the handling of goods. Similarly, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Port of Dunkerque as a whole took every step required to ensure port ope- rations continued as normal while preserving the health of employees present on the quays.

(*) AUTF: Freight Transport Users’ Association

• July 2020: Dunkerque-Port joins the “Getting to Zero” Coalition, in order to support the decarbonisation of the maritime industry. The aim of the Coalition is to help reach the objective set by the International Maritime Organisation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by shipping by at least 50% by 2050 (compared with the levels of 2008). To achieve this, through its members, the Coalition aims to commission zero-emission and commercially viable ocean-going vessels, powered by zero-emission fuels by 2030. By participating in the “Fuels and Technologies” working group, the port’s membership in the Coalition marks an additional step in Dunkerque-Port’s commitment to its custo- mers in the maritime sector and underlines its intent to act on their energy demand, by helping them to reduce their own emissions. Dunkerque-Port intends to make its contribution to the Coalition by sharing its expertise, in particular on the strategic priorities of port infrastructure requirements for fuel storage and the facilities for refuelling ships.
• 2 August marked the first port call by the “Pacific Reefer”, of the Dutch shipping line Seatrade Reefer Charte- ring NV, which links Ecuador, Peru and Surinam to Dunkerque.
The decision comes one year after the extension of the NEFWI (North Europe French West Indies) service, operated by CMA CGM in conjunction with Marfret, with the addition of the ports of Moin (Costa Rica), Cartagena and Santa Marta (Colombia). The new link is further to the initiative of the SIIM international imports company, market leader in pineapple production in Ecuador with 2,000 hectares cultivated in- house and packaged under the Terrasol brand for the Euro- pean market. The weekly service will further enhance the position of the port of Dunkerque as the leading French port for temperature-controlled products. The ports of Puerto Bolivar and Guayaquil (Ecuador) as well as Paita (Peru) mean an increase in Dunkerque’s market share in the fruit and vegetable sector with bananas, pineapples, avocados, tropical fruit, palm hearts, etc. as well as the fishing industry with shrimp and tuna, in particular, bound for Boulogne-sur-Mer, the leading French port for the processing of seafood. The Seatrade shipping line, specialised in the transport of refrige- rated products, provides the Port of Dunkerque with an “FDD” service (Fast, Direct & Dedicated) with sea times ranging between 15 and 19 days. It will make its port calls at Terminal des Flandres at the end of the day on Sundays, making fresh produce available for the start of the week.
• The Port Authorities of Namibia and the Port of Dunkerque cooperate for their mutual development 10
The Port of Walvis Bay (Namibia) and that of Dunkerque have many interests in common and can be of considerable mutual assistance. At the start of 2018, the executives of the two port authorities noted this and decided to set up a joint initiative materialized by the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
Last February, during a trip by a delegation from the Hauts-de-France region led by Valérie Létard, Vice-President of the Senate and Regional Councillor for Hauts-de-France, the Port of Dunkerque, Namibia’s port authorities – NAMPORT – and the French Development Agency (AFD) signed a partnership agreement. The latter is designed to define the terms of the technical and operational partnership between the parties for the implementation of a number of initiatives related to the mutual interests of the signatories. Over a three-year period, the Ports of Walvis Bay and Dunkerque will share their organizational, environmental and commercial expertise.
On Tuesday, 24 November, in turn the French Development Agency (AFD) and Dunkerque-Port’s signed their partnership agreement to mark the start of the operations scheduled for the joint initiative with NAMPORT.
• On the night of December 4 to 5, the CMA CGM “Champs Elysées”, powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas), arrived in Dunkerque-Port for its first call to a French port.
This 23,000 TEU vessel, built in the Jiangnan shipyards in China, measures nearly 400 m long and 61 m wide. Like the one bearing the name of the group’s founder (CMA CGM “Jacques Saadé”), its livery is a special green.
The new container ship has been allocated to the French Asia Line (FAL) service, which connects Asia to Europe and which calls at Dunkerque every week. Seven other vessels of identical size and capacity powered by LNG will follow. According to the CMA CGM group, “they will all take the name of emblematic monuments and places in Paris”.
In the long term, we will see container ships designated Palais Royal, Louvre, Rivoli, Montmartre, Concorde, Trocadéro and Sorbonne. Nine ships which remain “a concentrate of innovations, the result of long years of cooperation between the research and development teams of CMA CGM and its industrial partners”, specifies the shipping company.
• On December 22, Daniel Deschodt, interim chairman of the Dunkerque-Port Management Board, and Alain SAMSON, SAMFI – H2V Chairman, signed a construction lease covering approximately 12 hectares of land to set up a hydrogen production plant in the region resolutely committed to the energy transition.

Dunkerque-Port is the trading port of the Hauts-de-France Region (31,813 km², 6 million inhabi- tants), the largest agricultural region of France, the leading region for the rail industry, and the leading region for the car industry.
Dunkerque-Port is the third port in France in terms of overall traffic, and ninth port in the Channel and on the North Sea Range
2020 traffic: 45.2 million tonnes Founding member of Norlink Ports
Largest French port complex: with 100 million tonnes Leading French port for importing minerals and coal Leading French port for importing fruit in containers Leading French port for transport by rail Second largest French port for trade with the United Kingdom Third largest French port for grain traffic Largest river port in Hauts-de-France.

Two port sites on 17 km of shoreline, on the seafront with no estuary:

• The East Port, behind locks, accessible to ships with cargoes of up to 130,000 tonnes, or 14.20 meters of draught.
• The West Port, a tidal port, accessible to ships of 300,000 deadweight tonnes at full load, or 20,50
meters of draught, open with no constraints in terms of time, locks or tide, enabling very short port 12
calls and located 90 minutes by sea from the Dover Strait shipping lane.
An advantageous geographical situation, facing the United Kingdom, in contact with the Benelux as well as industrial and agricultural North-West Europe. Leading large multi-specialist port near (26 km) the port of Calais.

Quality, non-congested inland connections:

• By road: direct access from the port to the European motorway network via the A25 and A16 motorways.

• By waterway: wide-gauge canal with the Hauts-de-France region (3,000 tonnes), extended to Belgium and the Rhine (1,350 tonnes) and the Paris Basin (650 tonnes), until the Seine- Nord Europe canal has been built (2028). Container barge services to Lille, Dourges and Valen- ciennes.

• By rail: the 160 km of port railways are connected to the national and European networks. Containerized rail shuttle from / to Dourges, Valenton, Metz and all of the modal points in the south of France.
Dunkerque is the leading French rail freight hub with traffic of around 12 MT / year.

For many years, the modal share of alternative transport to road haulage has been higher than 50%.

As a multipurpose port, Dunkerque has many specialized docks and terminals: For liquid bulk:

West Port: LNG Terminal

East Port: Miscellaneous wharves (petroleum and chemical products, gas, bulk foodstuffs, ships up to 130,000 tonnes).

For dry bulk:

West Port: West Bulk Commodity Terminal, ore and coal, ships up to 180,000 tonnes dead- weight.

East Port : ArcelorMittal installations serving the local steel industry. Many docks for various imported and exported bulk commodities (lime, coke, scrap metal, ore, etc.). Grain facilities.

For general cargo:

West Port: Container terminal for ocean services and feeders. Ro-Ro terminal equipped with linkspans for ferry-boats serving the United Kingdom in particular. 13
East Port : Many terminals for break-bulk or semi-containerized lines, tramping, specialized terminals (sugar, sand, steel, grain, cement, etc.). 5,616 vessels entered the port in 2020.
Source: Port of Dunkerque

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