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Port of London 2012 Trade Down 10%

Trade through the terminals and cargo handling facilities on the tidal Thames fell by 10% to 43.7 million tonnes during 2012, the Port of London Authority (PLA) has announced.

The principal reason for the reduction of 5.1 million tonne year on year in port trade was the closure of the Coryton oil refinery at the end of May.  Increased volumes of ‘unitised’ (container) cargoes, cereals and biomass were handled; the volume of all other types of cargo reduced.

“2012 was a tough year for trade on the river”, explained PLA chief executive, Richard Everitt. “The closure of the Coryton terminal, one of the largest cargo handling facilities on the river, was compounded by limited growth or declines in other cargoes.  The medium term prospects for trade on the river nevertheless look very strong as the main benefit of having a terminal on the Thames – proximity to the UK’s biggest consumer market – continues to attract major investment.  

“In the course of this year we expect to see Coryton re-open under new owners as an oil products import facility, the London Gateway container port will open, work will be well underway at the Port of Tilbury’s London Distribution Centre and Stolt Neilsen will be developing their facility at Dagenham.

“In addition Crossrail have started to use the river for moving tunnelling spoil and Thames Water are already using the Thames to move materials from the first of their major new tunnel construction projects in London.”

Port of London Trade 2012: commentary by cargo type

Fuel 15.4 million tonnes (2011: 19.1 million tonnes)

Crude oil throughputs were reduced dramatically following the Coryton oil refinery closure. However, as a result some terminals benefited by taking up the shortfall in capacity .Tilbury Power Station imported 0.8 million tonnes of biomass for its trial using the fuel.               

Containers & trailers 14.8 million tonnes (2011: 14.5 million tonnes)

Unitised traffic through the port increased to 14.8 million tonnes, up by 2% on 2011.  The increase in trade was focused at London Container Terminal.

Aggregates 6.7 million tonnes (2011: 8.1 million tonnes)

Movements of aggregates in the port fell by 1.4 million tonnes (17.5%). This fall was due to the substitution of imported aggregates with material dredged for the London Gateway scheme and the closure of many riverside aggregates operations through the Olympic Games period.

Other cargoes 6.8 million tonnes (2011: 7.1 million tonnes)

The volume of other categories of cargo handled in the port – sugar, vegetable oils, metals, chemicals and general cargo – declined overall by 300,000 tonnes (4.1%).  Within this group, cereal trades had a good year increasing by 193,000 tonnes, sugar tonnages, however, continued at reduced levels with Tate & Lyle Sugars having problems sourcing raw sugar due to EU restrictions.