What do you know about the Port of Rouen?
The number 1 port in Western Europe for cereals export, a critical logistics hub for North-South trade (the Maghreb, West Africa, Indian Ocean, West Indies) and the supply of goods to the Paris region and its 25 million residents, Haropa – Port of Rouen – which is both a river and sea port – is the cornerstone of transport and the trade of goods from elsewhere, but also and most importantly, goods produced locally.
“Located at the heart of the Seine river linking Le Havre to Paris, 120 kilometres from the sea, Rouen receives 23.5 million tonnes of maritime traffic per year, and 5 million tonnes per year of river traffic”, confirms Pascal Gabet, chair of the Executive Board and managing director of Haropa – Port of Rouen (Haropa is the organisation governing the ports of Le Havre, Rouen and Paris). A technical and rewarding five to six hour journey is required to travel up the meandering river carving a path through Normandy.
“In order to take full advantage of this exceptional geographic location and establish ourselves more as a logistics hub, we have carried out significant works to improve sea access between 2012 and 2019, totalling €200 million. We can now welcome larger ships, which can exceed a draught of 11 metres, a length of 290 metres and a width of 35 metres”. Specifically, improved sea access allows the Port of Rouen to safely and optimally receive modern bulk vessels with a larger draught. This project offers a comprehensive response to environmental issues by encouraging the development of sea transport.
The different port infrastructures are directly connected to rail and road routes spanning France and northern Europe. The multimodal transport offering is enhanced by the fact that the Seine offers an efficient waterway connection to the Rouen terminals.
One of the primary economic centres in France, served by 32 port terminals
The docks of the Port of Rouen are brimming with activity due to the industrial and farming activity in its extensive region. “That’s one of our primary assets which really makes a difference: we are very close to production and consumption zones. A port means both import and export: goods arrive for consumption (in 2019, 8.54 million tonnes imported, mainly bulk liquids) but we also export local produce (in 2019, 14.91 million tonnes exported, including 8.26 million tonnes of cereals). That’s the benefit of an inland sea port along an estuary: a competitive supply chain, reducing first mile (export) and last mile (import) costs. Haropa – Port of Rouen, with its 32 port terminals along the Seine, is close to the hinterland and its economic activities: the terminals of Honfleur, the terminals of Port Jérôme and Radicatel, near to the ExxonMobil petrochemical complex in Port Jérôme on the Seine, the terminals of Saint Wandrille and Le Trait (used by the TechnipFMC group) and of course the terminals located in the Métropole Rouen Normandie region.
A bread basket and Chocolate Valley
“Rouen’s strength is the cereals trade. 50% of exported French cereal passes through here, amounting to around 7.5 million tonnes per year. We are ideally located near to two very important cereal production zones: Normandy and Île de France”. French cereals navigate to different parts of the planet, helping to provide a food supply to these countries: notably those in the Maghreb and the Middle East. There is also a very strong local agri-food industry, with some major names. “For example, did you know that we are the Chocolate Valley?” Every year 125,000 tonnes of cocoa beans arrive in Rouen and are processed by two world leaders in chocolate production: Cargill and Barry Callebaut. The Normandy Ferrero factory’s output (the only European site for Nutella and Kinder Bueno) travels from Rouen to the port of Gennevilliers.
3rd region for drug production!
The hinterland of the port of Rouen is also one of the leading areas for French chemistry production. Major pharmacy companies have been established there for many years: ASPEN (currently investing €100 million to increase production capacity), SANOFI-PASTEUR (900 million vaccine doses/year) has just opened a new extension for €170 million, but also Johnson and Johnson or APTAR (world leader for innovative distribution systems).
“Chemical products are an essential component of our activity. For example, 1/3 of cars in France use lubricants from Rouen. The same applies to fertiliser: “we are the no. 1 rated French port”, explains the director. Boréalis, Saipol, Tereos, Exxon… and there are also various research and development laboratories focused on industrial transformation, as they are directly linked to production sites and have an immediate connection with Paris. This goods trade is supplemented by other bulk activities often linked to industry, such as refined oil products, recycled metals, construction wood, biomass with wood pellets, as well as aggregates or construction products.
A wide range of activities which illustrates the Port of Rouen’s ability to adapt. This resilience has allowed it to overcome the dark days of deindustrialisation, like the Pétroplus closure in 2012, and to continue to benefit from a diversified land and property offering (e.g. the imminent delivery of a new logistics and industrial platform in Grand-Couronne – P3 Logistics Parks), an essential part of regional appeal. By 2025, an investment of no less than €230 million is already planned to allow the Port of Rouen to remain a driver boosting the national and regional economy.
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