Port of Fos-sur-Mer
Review and History

The Port of Fos-sur-Mer (also called the Marseilles-Fos) lies on the shores of the Golfe de Fos, an inlet of the Gulf of Lion, on France’s Mediterranean coast about 38 kilometers northwest of Marseille. Home to an ArcelorMittal steel plant, the Port of Fos-sur-Mer is an industrial town. The steel industry has also attracted oil and chemical plants, making Fos-sur-Mer one of Europe’s most polluted towns. In 2005, almost 16 thousand people lived in the Port of Fos-sur-Mer.

The Port of Fos-sur-Mer was first a small fishing and farming village, but it was transformed when a major industrial zone was built nearby in the 1960s.

The Port of Fos-sur-Mer opened in 1968 and has become the center for Marseille’s bulk cargo and container traffic. Its major import is crude oil that goes to refineries in Fos and the Etang-de-Berre salt lagoon. Other major imports include coking coal, iron, and liquefied natural gas. The Port of Fos-sur-Mer is also home to some light manufacturing and services. While development of the Port of Fos-sur-Mer has not met expectations, it has blessed the area with many opportunities for employment in both the town and the surrounding region. The “new town” built to the north has changed radically the old village of the Port of Fos-sur-Mer.

In 2008, the Port of Fos-sur-Mer handled almost 90 million tons of bulk cargoes. It also handled 30% more passengers than in 2007. At the end of 2008, the Port of Fos-sur-Mer was experiencing decreasing traffic of general cargoes (14 million tons) apparently due to the world financial crisis. Oil and dry and liquid bulk traffic increased over the year.

The slump in general cargo hit container traffic hard, dropping from 7.7 million tons in 2007 to 774 thousand tons in 2008. Roll-on/roll-off cargoes increased from 2007 by 1% to four million tons, but conventional cargoes fell dramatically to 2.3 million as demand for steel products fell and the motor industry underwent major cutbacks.

The Port of Fos-sur-Mer handled 42 million tons of crude oil and 11.1 million tons of refined products in 2008. Traffic in liquefied natural gas fell 1% to 3.7 million tons, and liquefied petroleum gas fell 5% to 1.7 million tons. Increases in coal imports supported a 12% increase in dry bulk cargoes in 2008 to 13.5 million tons. Liquid bulk cargoes also increased to 3.4 million tons, with biofuels of 800 thousand tons representing a huge increase in that traffic.

Cruise traffic rose substantially in the Port of Fos-sur-Mer in 2008, with almost 2 million passengers visiting the port, compensating for decreased ferry traffic. In 2007, the Port of Fos-sur-Mer handled six million tons of rail and river cargo from Rhone-Saone, including 127 thousand TEUs of containerized cargo.

Aside from its many beautiful beaches, the main attraction in the Port of Fos-sur-Mer is the 10th Century Castle of Hauture, one of the oldest castles in the region.

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