ROTTERDAM, July 20 (Reuters) - Cargo volume at Rotterdam port, Europe's biggest, rose 3.9 percent to a record 238 million tonnes during the first half of 2017, helped by strong container activity, it said on Thursday.
Throughput of containers rose 10.4 percent to 69.5 million tonnes from the same period last year, the Port of Rotterdam Authority said in its half-year statement.
Rotterdam's market share in container handling, compared with rivals such as Hamburg in Germany and France's Le Havre, rose nearly 2 percent to 30.9 percent.
"That the European economy is improving is reflected in the fact that export volumes increased faster than imports over the past six months," it said.
It said it expects a 1-2 percent increase in volume over the whole of 2017.
Little change is expected in dry bulk, while in liquid bulk maintenance stoppages at refineries are expected. In the container sector, volume is seen rising in the second half of the year.
In the current period, liquid bulk handling dropped one percent to 111.8 million tonnes, despite an increase of 9 percent in crude oil volume to 54.88 million tonnes.
This rise was offset by an 8.5 percent drop in mineral oil products and a 11.7 percent fall in other liquid bulk, including chemical products, vegetable oils and fruit juices.
Low oil prices lead to improved margins which caused higher production at refineries, it said.
A decrease in fuel oil, due to a Russian export tax and a modernisation of Russian refineries, caused mineral oil products to fall during the first six months of 2017.
Total throughput of dry bulk rose by 5.2 percent to 41.3 million tonnes with all segments rising on the back of a small increase in German steel production and slightly higher scrap metal exports. Larger soy and corn imports also aided to the overall rise.
Break bulk handling rose 10.8 percent to 15.2 million tonnes. Roll-on/roll-off rose by 5.5 percent on an extension of destinations and improved frequencies and because of a 33.1 percent increase in plate slabs imports. (Reporting by Karel Luimes; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and David Evans)