Several classifications of marine ports exist; and each one of them seeks to arrange the major ports according to some form of ranking, based on specified criteria like Handling Capacity, Surface area and Cargo Volume.
In this report, Global Business profiles the world's five largest ports based on 2012 cargo volume. The Peoples’ Republic of China happens to be the country with the world’s most active maritime system.
Cargo seaports are usually classified based on their handling capacity in terms of Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU’s). Statistics show that most of the world's largest ports are located in China and certain other parts of Asia, as well as several located in Europe. These ports are characterized by vast expanses of land, massive expansion projects and high volumes of container activity yearly.
In this review, we have listed the world's largest ports by TEU’s. However, it is important to note that this review is not entirely conclusive, as several ports are currently undergoing some form of expansion and as such, some ports may surpass the ones on the current list.
1. Port of Shanghai
The Port of Shanghai is unarguably the largest marine port on earth. Located at the mouth of the Yangtze River and covering a surface area of 3,619 square kilometers, this is the largest Port in the world based on both Cargo Output and TEU’s. It has both a sea and a river port, as well as five working areas. Recently, it surpassed the Port of Singapore, which was the world’s largest port until a few years ago.
The Port of Shanghai accounted for around 30 million TEU’s and over 745 million tons of cargo a few years ago.
Owned by the Shanghai International Port Group (SPIG), this port not only contributes over 25 per cent of China's foreign trade, but also accounts for tremendous economic activities in and around the Yangtze River area, as well as the Henan, Jiangsu and Zhejian regions.
It has three main container port areas, Wusongkou, Waigaoqiao and Yangshan. It also has roughly 125 berths with an average quay length of approximately 20 km. Almost 2,000 container ships get service at this Port on a monthly basis.
2. Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan
This is the second largest marine port in the world based on TEU’s, and the fifth largest based on Cargo through-put. Located in the Zhejiang province of China, with 309 berths this port recorded transactions of nearly 453 million tons of cargo in 2012.
Owned and managed by the Ningbo Port Group, this port was formed in 2006 as a collaborative investment between the Zhoushan and Ningbo ports. Feeding up three rivers the Yangtze, Yong and Qaintang rivers, the port also recorded a TEU volume of approximately 15.6 million in 2012.
Recently, authorities have begun constructing a new terminal called the Jintang Dapukuo, which has five additional berths and is expected to greatly expand the capacity of the port.
3. Port of Singapore
The Port of Singapore was the world's biggest port until the last few years when both the Ports of Ningbo and Shanghai toppled it. Based on TEU output, it amassed over 30 million TEUs annually as well as approximately 538 million tons of cargo.
The port of Singapore plays a huge role in growing the economy of Singapore. The Port is run by Jurong Port and PSA Singapore, and has several port terminals spread across the country. It serves over 140,000 vessels annually. The Port is predominantly focused on oil and cargo transport, as it accounts for almost half of the world's crude oil supply, as well as for over twenty percent of all cargo containers globally.
4. Port of Rotterdam
This happens to be the only port on this list that is located in Europe. This port was the world's largest until 2004, when it was surpassed by the Ports of Singapore and Shanghai, but it remains the largest port in Europe.
Based on Cargo output, it also ranks as the sixth largest in the world. It accounted for almost 442 million tons a few years ago, and is managed by the Port of Rotterdam Authority.
Its length is around 42 kilometers, with an area of over 12,400 hectares. It also allows unhindered access to certain kinds of vessels, like those with a very deep draft.
It recently began operations at its newly expanded site called Maasvlakte 2, a project which was started in 2008 and has in recent times doubled the operations and transfer capacity of the Port.
5. Port of Tianjin
China comes back into the list of the world's largest ports with the Port of Tianjin. Formerly known as the Port of Tanggu. It covers a large area of about 336 square kilometers of water, and nearly 131 square kilometers of land. Situated at the mouth of the Haihe River in the north, it is also the largest port in the entire northern part of China. The port was responsible for over 476 million tons of cargo, and 12.3 million TEU’s a few years ago.
It is run by Tianjin Port Group Companies, and has roughly 160 berths. It is also located in the region of the Tianjin Binhai International Airport, and is in close proximity of the Beijing Airport.
Just how does the rest of the world stack up against these powerhouses? In coming issues we will be taking a closer look at how the world compares. What they are investing in to remain strong, efficient and increase their competitiveness.