Throughput in the port of Rotterdam, Europe's largest sea port, fell 1.5% in the first quarter as high inflation slowed down container traffic, the port's operator said on Monday.

"Especially in the container segment, we faced a decline in volumes due to high inflation and a weakening economy," port CEO Allard Castelein said in a statement.

"Results in the other segments mainly show growth and confirm that dependence on Russian energy flows has been further reduced in line with the sanctions."

Castelein said the port expected "a limited decline" in volumes for the whole of 2023 due to geopolitical uncertainties and persistently high inflation.

Liquid bulk throughput increased almost 6% in the first quarter, with the supply of crude up 3% as oil from the United States, West Africa and the Middle East replaced Russian flows.

Container volumes dropped almost 12%, also because the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the first quarter of last year was still limited.

In the past, shipments to and from Russia accounted for 8% of total container throughput in Rotterdam, the port said. (Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Alexander Smith)