The closure of Coryton oil refinery resulted in a slight fall in the volume of cargo on the tidal Thames last year.

Latest figures from the Port of London Authority show overall cargo trade marginally down by 1.2% at 43.2 million tonnes. Fuel cargoes were down from over 15 million tonnes to 13 million.
But all other types of cargo were up.

The figures pre-date the full opening of London Gateway, the new six-berth deep water port on the Thames. The new Thames Oilport is due to open this year at Coryton.

The loss of crude oil trade in 2013 was offset by increases, principally aggregates for building, construction and civil engineering projects. Much of the construction material for new developments in London is now being transported by river rather than by road.


PLA chief executive Richard Everitt said: “These figures show flat overall Port of London trade in 2013.  The overall subdued level of port trade is primarily due to continued restructuring in the UK energy sector, both oil refining and power generation. Other sectors are now showing recovery and this showed through in the latter part of the year

“The key trades linked to construction – aggregates and cement – were up by a strong 1.3 million tonnes as the London market picked up. Overall consumer confidence and a return to economic growth was underlined by significant increases in throughput of containers and roll-on/roll-off goods as the year went on.

“Investment in port terminals here is a sign of optimism about the next few years: the brand new London Gateway container port opened as 2013 drew to a close and is now handling regular calls. The new Thames Oilport, on the site of the former Coryton refinery, is also set to open this year and the Port of Tilbury continues to invest across its port and distribution operations.”

The growing importance of London Gateway (above) has been underlined during the recent storms. Ten vessels have made diversionary calls to London Gateway since Christmas as weather conditions had a big impact other ports’ operations andaffected rail terminal operations. London Gateway has remained open throughout.

Dean Hawkridge, of DIY giant B&Q, said: “DP World London Gateway’s ability to continue operating when other ports have stopped operations is welcome news as shippers are seeking reliability for deliveries to go as planned.”

Story dated March 11th 2014

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