Port of Antwerp, Belgium


The Port of Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe in terms of freight volumes. Located on the right bank of the river Scheldt, about 88km south-east of the North Sea, the port is a major gateway to Europe. It is owned and operated by the Antwerp Port Authority.

The port connects other major European ports as it is strategically situated in the centre of the north-west Europe. The port is accessible to capesize vessels.

Port of Antwerp critical functions

The Port of Antwerp has the facilities to handle and store all types of products. The main functions of the port include loading and unloading, the storage of goods, and the repacking and distribution of freight.

Antwerp is the lead breakbulk port in Europe and is also a base for over 200 forwarding companies. It handles a range of breakbulk cargoes, including steel, forest products, fruit, ro/ro and project cargo.

"The Port of Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe in terms of freight volumes."

The Port of Antwerp offers 1,474 tanks with a capacity to store 3.6 million cubic metres of liquid bulk cargo. The container traffic is handled at dedicated container terminals. Bulk cargoes handled include coal, iron ore, non-ferrous concentrates, cement, minerals, fertilisers and China clay. The port has extensive terminals for the loading and unloading of cars and trucks.

Other services offered include storage and logistics, towage, pilotage, mooring and unmooring services. The port also delivers value-added services such as repackaging, labelling and quality control.

Port of Antwerp throughput

The Port of Antwerp handled 157.8 million tons of freight in 2009. This includes 87.2 million tons of container cargo, 39.5 million tons of liquid bulk and 14.7 million tons of dry bulk cargo. A total of 10.4 million tons of conventional general cargo and over 3.2 million tons of ro/ro freight were also handled by the port.

Port of Antwerp facilities

The Port of Antwerp is well accessible through a multimodal transportation network consisting of road, barge, rail, pipelines and short sea / feeder. The port is divided into two areas, the Right Bank and the Left Bank. Right Bank facilities include the Berendrecht Lock, the Bonaparte Dock, the Amerika Dock, the Albert Dock, the Delwaide Dock, the Europa terminal, the North Sea terminal and the MSC home terminal.

"Antwerp is the lead breakbulk port in Europe and a base for forwarding companies."

The Berendrecht Lock measures 500m in length and 68m in width, and is the largest lock in the world. The Left Bank features the Kallo Lock, the Verrebroek Dock, the Vrasene Dock and the Deurganck Dock. The port has 160km of quayside available for loading and unloading activities.

The port also features a petrochemical cluster, which has five refineries with an annual distillation capacity of over 40 million tons.

Two large refineries are connected with the Port of Rotterdam through the Rotterdam-Antwerp Pipeline (RAPL), which ensures the continuous supply of crude oil. The port offers over 5.3 million square metres of covered storage space.

Port operator

The port is owned and managed by the Antwerp Port Authority. The management committee of the authority operates the port facilities under the control of the regional port commissioner. The terminals are operated by various private companies, including DP World and PSA Antwerp.

Port communication and technology

The port's shipping traffic is controlled by the harbourmaster, who assigns berths and monitors the transportation of dangerous goods. The office also deals with accidents and ensures safety in the port area. The port also features an information system known as APICS2, which provides accurate data about the port and its approaches to ensure smooth and secure movements of ships with less possible delays.

Antwerp port security

The port adapts a range of security measures to ensure safety within the port area. Entry is controlled through electronic ID cards, with scanning equipment available to screen baggage. The port areas are monitored by the surveillance cameras.

Antwerp port equipment

The Port of Antwerp has three floating cranes and over 30 dock-mounted cranes. The floating cranes include Brabo with a capacity of 800t, and Portunus and Titan with a capacity of 45t. The dock crane department operates mobile cranes.

Future plans

"The government has granted permission for preparatory studies on the construction of a second lock on the left bank."

Future plans for the port include the Saeftinghe Development Area, the second lock on the left bank, expansion of the container-handling capacity, the Liefkenshoek rail tunnel and the Oosterweel link. The Saeftinghe Development Area on the left bank of the Scheldt will contain maritime, industrial and logistical facilities.

The government has granted permission for preparatory studies on the construction of a second lock on the left bank, which is scheduled to be operational by 2013. The existing container-handling facilities at the port will reach the maximum operating capacity by 2012-2013. In an effort to cater to future demand, additional container handling facilities will be created.

The Liefkenshoek rail tunnel is currently under construction for completion by 2013. The Oosterweel link road will also be constructed to provide connection between the left and right banks of the Scheldt.