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Dublin Port Throughput Declines by -10.9% in the Six Months to June

13th July 2020
Dublin Port arrival - The Q2 decline at the port of -17.0% was less than had been feared following a decline in the month of April of -26.2%. This was followed by a smaller decline of -20.5% in May and by a decline of just -5.5% in June. Dublin Port arrival - The Q2 decline at the port of -17.0% was less than had been feared following a decline in the month of April of -26.2%. This was followed by a smaller decline of -20.5% in May and by a decline of just -5.5% in June.

Dublin Port Company has today reported its second-quarter trading figures for 2020. The latest figures show a decline in overall port tonnage of -10.9% in the first six months of 2020.

As Afloat reported previously, having seen a decline of -4.8% in Q1 (which had been attributed to Brexit stockpiling in the first quarter of last year), there was a further and steeper decline in Q2 of -17.0% as the Covid-19 pandemic impacted on the country.

The Q2 decline of -17.0% was less than had been feared following a decline in the month of April of -26.2%. This was followed by a smaller decline of -20.5% in May and by a decline of just -5.5% in June.

Unitised trade (trailers and containers combined) fell by -13.5% to 321,000 units during Q2 with Ro-Ro declining by -13.0% to 225,000 units and Lo-Lo by -14.0% to 173,000 TEU.

Imports of new trade vehicles through Dublin Port in the April to June period decreased by -64.9% to 9,900 and a significant decline appears inevitable for the rest of the year.

Bulk liquid volumes, primarily petroleum products, declined by -37.8% to 715,000 tonnes. Aviation fuel accounts for more than one-fifth of all petroleum imports in Dublin Port and the impact of Covid-19 on air travel has greatly reduced demand. Likewise, reduced car traffic during the lockdown has greatly diminished demand for petrol and diesel.

Bulk solid commodities declined by -20.6% to 388,000 tonnes.

Ferry passenger numbers decreased by -78.2% to 120,000, the great majority of whom were HGV drivers, critical supply chain workers. The number of tourist vehicles fell even further, by -84.2% to 24,000.

There were no cruise ship calls to Dublin Port in Q2 and none is anticipated for the remainder of the year.

Elsewhere, An Bord Pleanála has granted permission for the MP2 Project, the second of three Strategic Infrastructure Development projects required to deliver Masterplan 2040, the development programme designed to bring Dublin Port to its ultimate capacity by 2040.

This permission will allow the construction of two berths with an overall length of 545 metres for Lo-Lo container ships and two berths with a combined length of 572 metres for Ro-Ro ferries. The MP2 Project also provides for the development of a heritage zone overlooking Dublin Bay at the eastern end of Dublin Port as the termination point for the 3.2 kilometre cycle and pedestrian greenway to be built along the northern fringe of the port overlooking the Tolka Estuary. Construction of this greenway will start next year.

Between the ABR Project, which is under construction, and the MP2 Project, Dublin Port Company has now secured all of the planning permissions required for the major development works planned on the northern side of the port under Masterplan 2040.

Commenting on the results, Dublin Port’s Chief Executive, Eamonn O’Reilly, said:

On the Q2 trading results:

“The Q2 decline of 17.0% in cargo volumes was less than we had feared it might be. After the first six months of the year, our volumes are down by 10.9%. At this level, our throughput for the full year would be back to where it was in 2016.

“We saw after the 2008 recession how rapidly the Irish economy can recover from a deep recession and we seem to be seeing some evidence of this resilience in recent months where a 26.2% fall-off in April was followed by a smaller decline of 20.5% in May and by a decline of just 5.5% in June.

“Even during the rapid and deep downturn during Q2, we have seen new unitised services - both Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo - introduced on routes to Rotterdam, Santander and Liverpool and additional capacity added on existing services to Liverpool. We are able to accommodate these because we have been systematically adding to port capacity in recent years.”

On the MP2 Project

“We recently received a 15-year planning permission for the MP2 Project. This will allow us to accommodate the future needs of Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo lines in the years ahead. Given that we have been playing catch-up over the past decade to provide additional port infrastructure for future growth, the drop back in volumes this year gives us some breathing space and it is important that we do not waste the opportunity this gives us to make counter-cyclical investment in port infrastructure.

“The MP2 Project planning permission is for 937 metres of new berths, including an extension to an existing berth. This will allow us to develop 1,117 metres of berths for unitised trade at the eastern end of the port, split 50 / 50 between Lo-Lo and Ro-Ro.

“Dublin Port has two oil jetties through which almost one third of the country’s total energy requirements are imported in the form of petrol, diesel, kerosene and aviation fuel. The MP2 Project planning permission allows for the redevelopment of one of these jetties to provide an additional berth for container ships as and when the demand for fossil fuels permanently reduces in response to national climate change policies.

“The MP2 Project is the second of three Strategic Infrastructure Development projects needed to realise the vision of Masterplan 2040. Work on the first of these – the ABR Project – is well underway. The additional port capacity which these projects will give contributes substantially to the Masterplan’s objective to provide additional port capacity to bring Dublin Port to its ultimate capacity by 2040.

“A second but equally important objective of the Masterplan is to re-integrate Dublin Port with Dublin City and the MP2 Project gives us planning permission to create a heritage area at the eastern end of the port as the destination point for the 3.2 kilometre cycle and pedestrian greenway which we will build along the northern fringe of the port overlooking the Tolka Estuary. Work on the greenway will start next year.

“We are now only 20 years away from the Masterplan’s target date of 2040. Delivering new port infrastructure takes a long time and we need now, already in 2020, to be looking to see how port capacity requirements will be met after 2040. We will shortly publish a series of papers as part of the Dublin Port Post 2040 Dialogue to ensure we have early and comprehensive consultation on this nationally important issue. Long-term planning of large infrastructure is very challenging and cannot start too early.”

Published in Dublin Port
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About Dublin Port 

Dublin Port is Ireland’s largest and busiest port with approximately 17,000 vessel movements per year. As well as being the country’s largest port, Dublin Port has the highest rate of growth and, in the seven years to 2019, total cargo volumes grew by 36.1%.

The vision of Dublin Port Company is to have the required capacity to service the needs of its customers and the wider economy safely, efficiently and sustainably. Dublin Port will integrate with the City by enhancing the natural and built environments. The Port is being developed in line with Masterplan 2040.

Dublin Port Company is currently investing about €277 million on its Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR), which is due to be complete by 2021. The redevelopment will improve the port's capacity for large ships by deepening and lengthening 3km of its 7km of berths. The ABR is part of a €1bn capital programme up to 2028, which will also include initial work on the Dublin Port’s MP2 Project - a major capital development project proposal for works within the existing port lands in the northeastern part of the port.

Dublin Port has also recently secured planning approval for the development of the next phase of its inland port near Dublin Airport. The latest stage of the inland port will include a site with the capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers and infrastructures such as an ESB substation, an office building and gantry crane.

Dublin Port Company recently submitted a planning application for a €320 million project that aims to provide significant additional capacity at the facility within the port in order to cope with increases in trade up to 2040. The scheme will see a new roll-on/roll-off jetty built to handle ferries of up to 240 metres in length, as well as the redevelopment of an oil berth into a deep-water container berth.

Dublin Port FAQ

Dublin was little more than a monastic settlement until the Norse invasion in the 8th and 9th centuries when they selected the Liffey Estuary as their point of entry to the country as it provided relatively easy access to the central plains of Ireland. Trading with England and Europe followed which required port facilities, so the development of Dublin Port is inextricably linked to the development of Dublin City, so it is fair to say the origins of the Port go back over one thousand years. As a result, the modern organisation Dublin Port has a long and remarkable history, dating back over 300 years from 1707.

The original Port of Dublin was situated upriver, a few miles from its current location near the modern Civic Offices at Wood Quay and close to Christchurch Cathedral. The Port remained close to that area until the new Custom House opened in the 1790s. In medieval times Dublin shipped cattle hides to Britain and the continent, and the returning ships carried wine, pottery and other goods.

510 acres. The modern Dublin Port is located either side of the River Liffey, out to its mouth. On the north side of the river, the central part (205 hectares or 510 acres) of the Port lies at the end of East Wall and North Wall, from Alexandra Quay.

Dublin Port Company is a State-owned commercial company responsible for operating and developing Dublin Port.

Dublin Port Company is a self-financing, and profitable private limited company wholly-owned by the State, whose business is to manage Dublin Port, Ireland's premier Port. Established as a corporate entity in 1997, Dublin Port Company is responsible for the management, control, operation and development of the Port.

Captain William Bligh (of Mutiny of the Bounty fame) was a visitor to Dublin in 1800, and his visit to the capital had a lasting effect on the Port. Bligh's study of the currents in Dublin Bay provided the basis for the construction of the North Wall. This undertaking led to the growth of Bull Island to its present size.

Yes. Dublin Port is the largest freight and passenger port in Ireland. It handles almost 50% of all trade in the Republic of Ireland.

All cargo handling activities being carried out by private sector companies operating in intensely competitive markets within the Port. Dublin Port Company provides world-class facilities, services, accommodation and lands in the harbour for ships, goods and passengers.

Eamonn O'Reilly is the Dublin Port Chief Executive.

Capt. Michael McKenna is the Dublin Port Harbour Master

In 2019, 1,949,229 people came through the Port.

In 2019, there were 158 cruise liner visits.

In 2019, 9.4 million gross tonnes of exports were handled by Dublin Port.

In 2019, there were 7,898 ship arrivals.

In 2019, there was a gross tonnage of 38.1 million.

In 2019, there were 559,506 tourist vehicles.

There were 98,897 lorries in 2019

Boats can navigate the River Liffey into Dublin by using the navigational guidelines. Find the guidelines on this page here.

VHF channel 12. Commercial vessels using Dublin Port or Dun Laoghaire Port typically have a qualified pilot or certified master with proven local knowledge on board. They "listen out" on VHF channel 12 when in Dublin Port's jurisdiction.

A Dublin Bay webcam showing the south of the Bay at Dun Laoghaire and a distant view of Dublin Port Shipping is here
Dublin Port is creating a distributed museum on its lands in Dublin City.
 A Liffey Tolka Project cycle and pedestrian way is the key to link the elements of this distributed museum together.  The distributed museum starts at the Diving Bell and, over the course of 6.3km, will give Dubliners a real sense of the City, the Port and the Bay.  For visitors, it will be a unique eye-opening stroll and vista through and alongside one of Europe’s busiest ports:  Diving Bell along Sir John Rogerson’s Quay over the Samuel Beckett Bridge, past the Scherzer Bridge and down the North Wall Quay campshire to Berth 18 - 1.2 km.   Liffey Tolka Project - Tree-lined pedestrian and cycle route between the River Liffey and the Tolka Estuary - 1.4 km with a 300-metre spur along Alexandra Road to The Pumphouse (to be completed by Q1 2021) and another 200 metres to The Flour Mill.   Tolka Estuary Greenway - Construction of Phase 1 (1.9 km) starts in December 2020 and will be completed by Spring 2022.  Phase 2 (1.3 km) will be delivered within the following five years.  The Pumphouse is a heritage zone being created as part of the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project.  The first phase of 1.6 acres will be completed in early 2021 and will include historical port equipment and buildings and a large open space for exhibitions and performances.  It will be expanded in a subsequent phase to incorporate the Victorian Graving Dock No. 1 which will be excavated and revealed. 
 The largest component of the distributed museum will be The Flour Mill.  This involves the redevelopment of the former Odlums Flour Mill on Alexandra Road based on a masterplan completed by Grafton Architects to provide a mix of port operational uses, a National Maritime Archive, two 300 seat performance venues, working and studio spaces for artists and exhibition spaces.   The Flour Mill will be developed in stages over the remaining twenty years of Masterplan 2040 alongside major port infrastructure projects.

Source: Dublin Port Company ©Afloat 2020. 

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