Tuesday 20 January 2009
The Port of Cork Company returned a good performance in 2008 with traffic reaching 10.1 million tonnes, a reduction of 5% on the 2007 figures of 10.6 million tonnes, which was the highest annual throughput in the history of the Port Company. Commenting on the 2008 performance, Dermot O’Mahoney, Chairman Port of Cork Company claimed that this once again clearly illustrated the critical importance of the Port of Cork to the Irish, regional and local economy, and re-affirming Cork’s position as the premier Port on the south coast of Ireland.
With the current economic slowdown posing challenges to both importers and exporters, the port’s container traffic reduced by 6.97% decreasing from 200,000 TEU’s to 187,000 TEU’s. The Port of Cork is the second busiest Port in Ireland in terms of the number of containers handled. Last year containers shipped through the Port ofCorkwere destined to and from the mainland European ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugee on services operated by BG Freightline, Eucon Shipping & Transport, Samskip, APL and X-press container line. Additionally, the Grimaldi-Euromed service offers weekly connections linking Ringaskiddy in Cork with Scandinavia, North West Europe and the Mediterranean. The port continues to invest in facilities and machinery at our Tivoli Container Terminal to ensure the high level of service for customers at the terminal is maintained. Investment has also been injected into Ringaskiddy Deepwater Terminal, with €3.6 million invested in new plant equipment to help meet customer needs and to increase efficiency at the Port of Cork.
Of the total throughput at the Port of Cork, oil traffic accounts for 57.65 % of cargo handled. In 2008 oil traffic decreased by 4.459% to 5.8 million tonnes, the bulk of which is processed through Conoco Philips’ Whitegate Oil Refinery.
Non-oil accounted for 4.28 million tonnes in 2008, a decrease of 179,185 tonnes or 4.56 % when compared with the same period in 2007. While there was a decrease in container traffic, other cargoes such as cereals, coal, bulk fertiliser and animal feeds showed marginal increases.
The Port’s facilities for the importation of trade cars are used by Ford, Opel, Fiat, Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Citroen, Chrysler and Skoda, and Mazda. The number of vehicles handled in 2008 was 53,000 units, a decrease of 31.44% over the same period in 2007. Trade cars are handled at both Tivoli and Ringaskiddy.
The Port of Cork hosted a record number of cruise vessels in 2008 with 51 cruise ships visiting Cork Harbour. The visiting liners brought over 60,000 passengers to the region to experience the many and varied tourist attractions on offer and contributing in excess of €44millon. The Port’s continued investment in upgrading the Cobh Cruise Terminal is already paying dividends by facilitating the largest passenger vessels to cruise European waters to berth at the dedicated cruise terminal at Cobh. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines vessel “Independence of the Seas”, which berthed for three overnight stays at the Cobh Deepwater Terminal between May and August 2008, will return for further overnight visits in 2009 which should prove to be a major attraction to the town of Cobh. The berthing of the QE2 at Cobh on her final voyage around the UK and Ireland in October 2008 will be remembered for a long time. The cruise season is already looking promising for 2009 with 54 vessels booked to call into the port.
Brittany Ferries once again had a successful season on their Cork to Roscoff route which will resume in March until November 2009. The failed re-establishment of Swansea Cork Ferry in 2008 was a disappointment to all parties concerned; however the Port of Cork continues to act as a facilitator for its re-introduction in 2009 and remains hopeful that this will happen.
The Port of Cork Company continues to actively support Cork City Council in its efforts to secure the development of the Cork Docklands. However, because the City Quays are central to Port activities and the on-going viability of the Company, there is a need to provide the Port Company with the financial resources necessary to relocate its activities away from the City and construct the necessary facilities in Ringaskiddy to handle the displaced city trade.
Looking ahead to 2009, the Port of Cork, having experienced a general reduction in cargo volumes which is consistent with the current economic climate being experienced both nationally and worldwide, will continue to meet future challenges by maintaining the Port’s high level of facilities and services.
Commenting on the year ahead Mr Brendan Keating Chief Executive commented: ‘The Port’s future is dependent on its ability to offer competitive services and to this end the co-operation of port staff, stevedores and dock labour is essential.’
Finally, Mr. O’Mahoney stated that he would like to thank management and employees of the Port of Cork Company along with Port services providers for their efforts and commitment over the past 12 months in making the Port Company the catalyst for regional and constructive development and the impetus for maritime change in a very challenging environment.