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Dublin Port Trade Almost Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels

26th July 2022
Welcoming the world and its seaborne trade -historic Dublin Port is moving into a new era as its trade levels return towards re-pandemic and
pre-Brexit levels
Welcoming the world and its seaborne trade -historic Dublin Port is moving into a new era as its trade levels return towards re-pandemic and pre-Brexit levels

During its 1,200 and more years of active trading, the Port of Dublin has successfully emerged from many adversities to maintain its role as Ireland's premier trading hub. Despite all the international frustrations to smooth trade and the pandemic problems in everyday commerce in recent years, Chief Executive Eamonn O'Reilly reports this morning that trade volumes have almost recovered to pre-pandemic and pre-Brexit levels

Overall port volumes for the first six months of the year grew by +10.1% to 18.6 million gross tonnes and the number of ship arrivals increased by +150 to 3,694 versus the same period last year. The increase is a result of two strong performing quarters, with volumes up +13.7% in Q1 2022 and +7.0% in Q2 2022.

Four-fifths of Dublin Port’s cargo volumes are in the Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo modes and the number of trailers and containers that passed through Dublin Port in the first half of 2022 increased year-on-year by +7.6% to 742,000.

Compared to the first half of 2019, trailer and container volumes are only 5,700 or -0.8% lower than they were pre-pandemic and pre-Brexit. For context, the following figures have been compared to the first six months of 2019 to provide a clearer picture of the trends emerging post-pandemic and post-Brexit, with 2019 the busiest year on record for trade at Dublin Port.

Bulk commodity volumes increased by +20.0% to 3.5 million tonnes and, within this, petroleum imports increased by +25.6% to 2.3 million tonnes. At this level, petroleum imports are +4.3% higher than they were in the first half of 2019.

Similarly, Bulk Solid volumes (mainly animal feed) grew by +10.7% to 1.1 million tonnes and are +6.5% ahead of 2019 levels.

Trade vehicle imports declined by -3.6% to 47,000 in the first half of 2022 and are -23.7% behind the levels of 2019 due to the impact of the loss of lands given over to State services for border control facilities post Brexit.

Ferry traffic volumes recovered strongly during the first half of 2022 with passenger numbers more than doubling to 671,000 and tourist vehicle numbers more than trebling to 196,000.

However, compared to 2019, passenger numbers are -18.7% behind and tourist vehicle numbers are -15.9% lower than they were three years ago.

Commenting on the H1 2022 figures, Dublin Port’s Chief Executive, Eamonn O’Reilly, said:

“The first half trading results this year are the first opportunity for us to assess trends in Dublin Port’s volumes after two years of disruption caused by the pandemic and Brexit and what we are seeing is a return of the strong volume growth which has characterised Dublin Port for decades. This is driven by population growth as confirmed in the recent census. More people means more trade and more trade means greater volumes through Dublin Port.

“While overall port tonnages are -3.7% behind where they were in 2019, the number of containers and trailers passing through Dublin Port is less than one per cent behind. Additionally, bulk commodity imports such as petroleum and animal feed grew strongly in the first six months of the year and are actually ahead of their 2019 levels by +5.7%.

“The pattern we saw post-Brexit where the average cargo load per container and trailer reduced by -4.2% is now an established reality. It is a permanent inefficiency in logistics supply chains caused by the reintroduction of border controls on imports into Ireland from the UK. This is putting greater pressure on port lands as trade volumes climb back to record levels.

“We were fortunate that the investments we had been making under Masterplan 2040 in recent years gave Dublin Port the capacity it needed to cater for the large switch in volumes from Great Britain to Continental Europe. We have invested €500 million over the last ten years and will invest a further €500 million in the next five years alone to keep pace with the growth we are anticipating now that the long-run growth trends we have seen over many decades have re-established themselves.

“We have multiple planning consents in place already and are preparing to bring the third and final Masterplan project – the 3FM Project – to An Bord Pleanála next year to ensure that Dublin Port can develop the critical national infrastructure that will be needed on the Poolbeg Peninsula if a national port capacity deficit is to be avoided in the next decade. Big infrastructure takes a long time to plan and we have, as a matter of policy, always started early.”

H1 2022 Trade Results

H1 2022 Trade Results

Published in Dublin Port
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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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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