The Port of Antwerp occupies an area of 13,057 ha, 7,239 ha of which are in use on the Right Bank of the Scheldt and a further 5,818 ha are in the course of phased development on the Left Bank. Of the total area occupied by the port on both banks of the Scheldt, about 2,200 ha is water surface. When both dockside and river berths are included the overall useful berth length is roughly 150 km. Half of this is suitable for deep-draught ships.
400 km of roads and about 1,113 km of railway track ensure the smooth arrival and departure of goods. Every berth is equipped with 2 to 5 rail spurs and most warehouses and sheds close to the docks have direct rail connections.
The opening of the Berendrecht Lock in 1989 was the crowning achievement in the development of the Right Bank dock complex. It is the largest lock in the world with a length of 500 m between the lock gates, a width of 68 m and a depth of 13.50 m, making the sill depth at mean high water 17.75 m.
Since 1989, the Right Bank has been further developed on the banks of the Scheldt outside the dock complex. Two large new container terminals have been opened here. The first was the Europe Terminal, which started operations in 1990, while the second, the North Sea Terminal, welcomed its first ship in early 1997.
Older areas of the port are currently being modernised as needs dictate to make them suitable for modern cargo handling operations. One project has been the upgrading of the Amerika Dock, the Albert Dock and the Third Harbour Dock to make them accessible to Panamax ships, which have a draught of 42'.
On the right bank of the Scheldt the Delwaide dock was modernised to be able to welcome the latest generation of container vessels. The MSC Home Terminal is a partnership between PSA Hesse-Noord Natie and MSC. It covers the entire southern part of the Delwaide dock. The terminal is the European hub for the services provided by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). Thanks to a total quay length of more than 2 km, several ships can be handled at the same time. By the end of 2006 the MSC Home Terminal will have an annual capacity of more then 3.6 million TEU.
The Left Bank is currently in full development. In the first phase a gross area of 4,360 ha is being developed, with priority being given to the expansion of port and industry. In addition to this a northern expansion zone of roughly 1,440 hectares is planned.
The motor of the development of the Left Bank has been the Vrasene Dock. The dock offers 4.5 km of berths, and the terminals that have been built around it specialise in forest products, fruit juice concentrates, cars and plastic granulates.
As all the available space around the Vrasene Dock, on the port's Left Bank, is fully occupied, work was started in 1996 on the construction of the Verrebroek Dock.
The total quay length will be 5 km, of which 3.1 km is already available.
The sites will be used for modern handling and storage installations suitable for a wide range of products, thus ensuring that Antwerp will be able to retain its dominant position in non-containerised general cargo well into the 21st century.
Further expansion of the Deurganck dock
The new Deurganck container dock completed its first full year of operation in 2006, handling a volume of more than 810,000 TEU. The second phase of dredging was completed in February 2006. Temporary marking buoys were placed at the end of the dredged area, and the dredging barges were taken away. The third and last dredging phase is due to begin in 2007. By the end of 2006 more than 3,000 metres out of the ultimate total of 5,300 of quay had been put into operation.
Construction of the entire quay wall had already been completed in 2005. Work continued in 2006 on among other things the embankment defences on either side of the entrance to the dock, and on the connection with the existing Scheldt embankments. In November 2006 work started on extension of the Blikken rail connection, with lengthening of the existing track and construction of a new spur. The amount of the contract is 3.3 million euros.
Also in 2006 the first preparations were made for a possible expansion of the container handling capacity on the left bank of the Scheldt. Initial transport studies were carried out, and the question of whether it would be better to have new handling in front of or behind the locks was examined.
A detailed overview of the port's infrastructure can be found in the Statistics section.