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€11m Tonnes of Trade in 2015 By Port of Cork & Bantry Bay Port

13th January 2016

Total traffic through the Port of Cork and Bantry Bay Port Company in 2015 reached a total of 11 million tonnes. Total Trade traffic at the Port of Cork reached 9.8 million tonnes up a significant 10% on 2014 traffic figures. Bantry Bay Port Company dropped slightly from 1.3 million tonnes in 2014 to 1.1 million tonnes in 2015. These figures are extremely positive for the port and show trade is beginning to return to pre-recession times.

Total container volumes through both Tivoli and Ringaskiddy Container Terminals in the Port of Cork grew by 8% compared to 2014 figures with over 205,000 TEU’s handled. This is very encouraging particularly as the Port received planning permission to move all container operations to Ringaskiddy in the near future. Dry bulk cargos such as animal feed, increased by 2% in 2015 while fertilisers and cereals both decreased slightly.

Liquid bulk cargo, predominantly the oil traffic through Whitegate Oil Refinery, currently owned and operated by Phillips 66, continues to have a significant impact on the overall traffic through the Port of Cork with oil traffic in 2015 showing an increase of almost 20%. This significant increase in 2015 is attributed to an increase in demand from the domestic market as recovery takes hold and due to maintenance shut-down in the Whitegate refinery in 2014 which affected refining for a six week period. Traffic from the Bantry Bay Oil Storage Terminal is operated by Zenith Energy, which accounts for 100% of the commercial traffic through Bantry Bay Port.

Commenting on the 2015 trade traffic results, Port of Cork Chairman Mr. John Mullins said: ‘We are pleased with the total trade traffic figures across both Bantry and Cork in 2015. Achieving traffic figures which are in line with pre-recessionary time highlights the beginning of the positivity returning to the market and I am confident that we can sustain this growth across 2016. Container traffic increased by 8% indicating the confidence in the consumer market for imports and the growth of exports in the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors. The Port’s move to Ringaskiddy is vitally important to meet expected further growth in this market.’

He continued “Whitegate oil Refinery operated by Phillips 66 is a key customer within the port and we are extremely encouraged to see oil traffic up compared to 2014. Phillips 66 currently has the refinery on the market for sale and we would remain hopeful that it would be sold as an operating refinery.”

The Port of Cork cruise business grows year on year with 55 scheduled cruise liners calling to Cork in 2015. In total these liners carried in excess of 145,000 passengers and crew to the region. These transit visitors are an excellent economic stimulus for Cork, bringing a welcome boost to the local economy for eight months of the year. The Port of Cork has completed work on upgrading the facilities at Cobh Cruise Terminal and can now handle ‘Quantum Class’ vessels, which are the largest liners operating in Europe today. The Port of Cork continues to work closely with cruise lines to increase calls to both Port of Cork and Bantry Bay.

Brittany Ferries had another very positive year with their seasonal service from Cork to Roscoff carrying 84,378 passengers in 2015. This figure is up compared with 2014 and it is hoped that 2016 will be another busy year for Brittany Ferries when sailings resume.

In 2015 the Port of Cork was granted planning permission for the Ringaskiddy Port Redevelopment which is a milestone for the Port of Cork and particularly the Munster region. According to Chairman Mr. Mullins, receiving planning permission for the Ringaskiddy Port Redevelopment has given the organisation a renewed confidence in the future of trade for the Cork region. He said; ‘Not only is this a great boost for our company but most importantly for our customers, who can now confidently plan for the future, knowing the port has the capacity to accommodate their growth.’

Following a public tender process in November, advance works on the project are due to begin in January 2016. These advance works are a positive step in terms of the Ringaskiddy port redevelopment and will include site clearance to the proposed container compound area which will serve to prepare the site to ensure the main works are not delayed. The next step is to launch the main works tender process in April 2016, with a view to contract being awarded in Q3 2016. It is estimated that 849 FTE jobs will be created during the construction of the Ringaskiddy Redevelopment Project which the Port aims to have operating by Q4 2018.

The Port of Cork is committed to seeking out new business opportunities for the Port and in particular, the agri-food business will be a key sector which the Port of Cork is keen to develop. Other areas include the offshore oil exploration field and of course establishing new trade links from Cork.

The Port of Cork Schools Initiative is now in its eleventh year and aims to educate 5th class primary school children about the rich history associated with Cork Harbour and to highlight the importance of having a local port to facilitate the connectivity to world markets. The initiative also gives children a better understanding of where cargo comes from and how Ireland, as an island depends on Ports for trading. This year’s theme (2016) ‘A Day in the Life of a Cruise Passenger Visiting Cork’ focuses on the leisure and tourism aspect of the harbour, county and city and encourages school children to see what their region has to offer international visitors.

The Port of Cork’s recreational strategy continues to expand with the aim of improving the marine leisure facilities around Cork Harbour and the Port of Cork continues to be an ongoing supporter many of the local harbour festivals and events, local sporting clubs in the harbour and cultural events in the city.

Published in Port of Cork
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Port of Cork Information

The Port of Cork is investing €80 million in a container terminal development in Ringaskiddy. The Cork Container Terminal will initially offer a 360-metre quay with 13-metre depth alongside and will enable larger ships to berth in the port. The development also includes the construction of a 13.5-hectare terminal and associated buildings as well as two ship to shore gantry cranes and container handling equipment.

The development of new container handling facilities at Ringaskiddy was identified in the Port of Cork’s Strategic Development Plan in 2010. It will accommodate current and future container shipping which can be serviced by modern and efficient cargo handling equipment with innovative terminal operating and vehicle booking systems. The Port of Cork anticipates that Cork Container Terminal will be operational in 2020.

The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of just two Irish ports which service the requirements of all shipping modes.

The Port of Cork also controls Bantry Bay Port Company and employs 150 people across all locations.

A European Designated Core Port and a Tier 1 Port of National Significance, Port of Cork’s reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround as well as the company’s investment in future growth, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain.

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades, most recently with the construction of the new €80m Cork Container Terminal in Ringaskiddy which will facilitate the natural progression of the move from a river port to a deepwater port in order to future proof the Port
of Cork. This state-of-the-art terminal which will open in 2020 will be capable of berthing the largest container ships currently calling to Ireland.

The Port of Cork Company is a commercial semi-state company responsible for the commercial running of the harbour as well as responsibility for navigation and berthage in the port.  The Port is the main port serving the South of Ireland, County Cork and Cork City. 

Types of Shipping Using Port of Cork

The Port offers all six shipping modes from Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise liner traffic.

Port of Cork Growth

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades. Since 2000, the Port of Cork has invested €72 million in improving Port infrastructure and facilities. Due to its favourable location and its modern deepwater facilities, the Port is ideally positioned for additional European trading as well as for yet unexploited direct deep-sea shipping services. A well-developed road infrastructure eases the flow of traffic from and to the port. The Port of Cork’s growing reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain. The Port of Cork Company turnover in 2018 amounted to €35.4 million, an increase of €3.9 million from €31.5 million in 2017. The combined traffic of both the Ports of Cork and Bantry increased to 10.66 million tonnes in 2018 up from 10.3 million tonnes in 2017.

History of Port of Cork

Famous at the last port of call of the Titanic, these medieval navigation and port facilities of the city and harbour were historically managed by the Cork Harbour Commissioners. Founded in 1814, the Cork Harbour Commissioners moved to the Custom House in 1904.  Following the implementation of the 1996 Harbours Act, by March 1997 all assets of the Commissioners were transferred to the Port of Cork Company.

Commercial Traffic at Port of Cork

Vessels up to 90,000 tonnes deadweight (DWT) are capable of coming through entrance to Cork Harbour. As the shipping channels get shallower the farther inland one travels, access becomes constricted, and only vessels up to 60,000 DWT can sail above Cobh. The Port of Cork provides pilotage and towage facilities for vessels entering Cork Harbour. All vessels accessing the quays in Cork City must be piloted and all vessels exceeding 130 metres in length must be piloted once they pass within 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km) of the harbour entrance.

Berthing Facilities in Cork Harbour

The Port of Cork has berthing facilities at Cork City, Tivoli, Cobh and Ringaskiddy. The facilities in Cork City are primarily used for grain and oil transport. Tivoli provides container handling, facilities for oil, livestock and ore and a roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ramp. Prior to the opening of Ringaskiddy Ferry Port, car ferries sailed from here; now, the Ro-Ro ramp is used by companies importing cars into Ireland. In addition to the ferry terminal, Ringaskiddy has a deep water port.

Port of Cork Development Plans

2020 will be a significant year for the Port of Cork as it prepares to complete and open the €86 million Cork Container Terminal development in Ringaskiddy.

Once operational the new terminal will enable the port to handle up to 450,000 TEU per annum. Port of Cork already possess significant natural depth in Cork harbour, and the work in Ringaskiddy Port will enable the Port of Cork to accommodate vessels of 5500 to 6000 TEU, which will provide a great deal of additional potential for increasing container traffic.

It follows a previous plan hatched in 2006 as the port operated at full capacity the Port drew up plans for a new container facility at Ringaskiddy. This was the subject of major objections and after an Oral Planning Hearing was held in 2008 the Irish planning board Bord Pleanala rejected the plan due to inadequate rail and road links at the location.  

Bantry Port

In 2017 Bantry Bay Port Company completed a significant investment of €8.5 million in the Bantry Inner Harbour development. The development consisted of a leisure marina, widening of the town pier, dredging of the inner harbour and creation of a foreshore amenity space.

Port of Cork Cruise Liner Traffic

2019 was a record cruise season for the Port of Cork with 100 cruise liners visiting. In total over 243,000 passengers and crew visited the region with many passengers visiting Cork for the first time.

Also in 2019, the Port of Cork's Cruise line berth in Cobh was recognised as one of the best cruise destinations in the world, winning in the Top-Rated British Isles & Western Europe Cruise Destination category. 

There has been an increase in cruise ship visits to Cork Harbour in the early 21st century, with 53 such ships visiting the port in 2011, increasing to approximately 100 cruise ship visits by 2019.

These cruise ships berth at the Port of Cork's deepwater quay in Cobh, which is Ireland's only dedicated berth for cruise ships.

Passenger Ferries

Operating since the late 1970s, Brittany Ferries runs a ferry service to Roscoff in France. This operates between April and November from the Ro-Ro facilities at Ringaskiddy. Previous ferry services ran to Swansea in Wales and Santander in Spain. The former, the Swansea Cork ferry, ran initially between 1987 and 2006 and also briefly between 2010 and 2012.

The latter, a Brittany Ferries Cork–Santander service, started in 2018 but was cancelled in early 2020.

Marine Leisure

The Port of Cork has a strategy that aims to promote the harbour also as a leisure amenity. Cork’s superb natural harbour is a great place to enjoy all types of marine leisure pursuits. With lots of sailing and rowing clubs dotted throughout the harbour, excellent fishing and picturesque harbour-side paths for walking, running or cycling, there is something for everyone to enjoy in and around Cork harbour. The Port is actively involved with the promotion of Cork Harbour's annual Festival. The oldest sailing club in the world, founded in 1720, is the Royal Cork Yacht Club is located at Crosshaven in the harbour, proof positive, says the Port, that the people of Cork, and its visitors, have been enjoying this vast natural leisure resource for centuries. 

Port of Cork Executives

  • Chairman: John Mullins
  • Chief Executive: Brendan Keating
  • Secretary/Chief Finance Officer: Donal Crowley
  • Harbour Master and Chief Operations Officer: Capt. Paul O'Regan
  • Port Engineering Manager: Henry Kingston
  • Chief Commercial Officer: Conor Mowlds
  • Head of Human Resources: Peter O'Shaughnessy

At A Glance – Port of Cork

Type of port: deepwater, multi-model, Panamax, warm-water
Available berths: Up to ten
Wharves: 1
Employees: 113
Chief Executive: Brendan Keating
Annual cargo tonnage: 9,050,000
Annual container volume: 165,000

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