The Port of Antwerp Authority said it will invite expressions of interest for new opportunities to expand cargo handling capacity at its Deurganck dock, a request prompted by the desire of MSC, the second-largest container shipping company and a member of the P3 alliance with Maersk and CMA CGM, to expand its activities in Antwerp.
"MSC has officially asked Antwerp Port Authority to be able to do this in the Deurganck dock. At the moment MSC, the port of Antwerp's largest container customer, already operates in the Delwaide dock, where last year, it handled a freight volume of around 4.6 million TEU."
The Port Authority said it will "organize an invitation for expressions of interest, in an open and transparent way, in order to determine whether in addition to MSC there are other significant market opportunities of a similar nature."
The port said its board of directors gave the go-ahead Monday evening for such an invitation to be launched.
The Port of Antwerp said it has "managed to win market share in the fully containerized sector ever since the 1990s, and in doing so, has developed into one of the leading European ports for the main world players. This was underscored once more in mid-October when the P3 alliance announced that it wished to opt clearly for the Port of Antwerp as a European platform."
Antwerp said the P3's "choice of Antwerp as a European platform affords an opportunity for the port to further consolidate its position in the European container landscape. Antwerp's sea access, its freight-handling productivity, its inland location and its cargo-generating power are significant advantages which together ensure that a maximum amount of trade flows through Antwerp.
"If the port of Antwerp is to offer an adequate response to these world players in the European competitive battle, it must also offer a future scenario with opportunities for further growth," it continued.
The port noted that "MSC, for its part, has developed its European hub in the Delwaide dock, but this location on the right bank of the Scheldt does not have any more room for growth.
MSC has "therefore officially notified the Port Authority that it wishes to expand elsewhere in the Port of Antwerp to accommodate its further growth in the Benelux region, the most important container region in Europe. This is a powerful signal by a major world player, along with CMA CGM and Maersk, that it specifically wishes to consolidate in the Port of Antwerp," the port authority said.
"Instead of the Delwaide dock, MSC has opted for the Deurganck dock, where it aims to have the MSC and P3 freight handled in the existing PSA terminal, with a request to be allowed to expand the capacity. This has been prompted not only by the lack of capacity on the right bank but also by the fact that the company will start using ships of 16,000 and 18,000 TEU in the near future, and handling behind the Berendrecht lock is no longer compatible," the port authority said. "Furthermore, it is important to be able to concentrate the trade in a single terminal."