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.