Combined total traffic through the Port of Cork and Bantry Bay Port Company reached 10.3 million tonnes in 2017, a very good increase of 8.6% compared to 2016.
Total imports increased by 6.4% while exports increased by 12.3%. The Port of Cork total container volumes through both Tivoli and Ringaskiddy Container Terminals grew by 3.7% compared to 2016 figures, with a total of 217,763 TEUs handled in 2017.
Oil traffic, predominantly handled through Whitegate Oil Refinery now owned by Canadian company Irving Oil, saw an increase of 2%. Trade in dry bulk cargos such as animal feed, fertilisers and cereals saw increases throughout the year.
In 2017 the Port of Cork handled 68 cruise liners bringing over 140,000 passengers and crew to the region, while in Bantry Bay five cruise liners visited the harbour, with MV Prinsendam making her maiden call to Bantry, the first liner to do so in 30 years.
Brendan Keating, Chief Executive said: “We are encouraged by the increase in trade traffic through the Port of Cork and Bantry Bay Port in 2017. An 8.6% increase in total trade traffic shows the positivity in the markets which were showing a marginal decrease in 2016. We are particularly encouraged by the growth in container traffic through both Tivoli and Ringaskiddy which increased by 3.7%. This increase is a clear indication that consumer markets are beginning to open up with both imports and exports on the rise through Cork.”
He continued: “In 2017 the Port of Cork saw over 34,000 trade vehicles imported through Cork. The trade car market is very important for Cork, however unfortunately we saw some decreases in the volume of cars imported. With regards to tourism, the Port of Cork had a very positive year with 68 cruise liners calling bringing over 142,000 passengers and crew to visit the Munster region. Furthermore, in 2017, for the second year running, Cobh was named the second Best Cruise Destination in the British Isles & Western Europe in the Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards, a further endorsement of our cruise business.”
Commenting on Bantry Bay Port Company, Mr Keating said: “In August 2017, we successfully completed and opened Bantry Harbour Marina, part of the inner harbour development. This new sheltered harbour facility will be of great benefit to both commercial and leisure users bringing increased activity to Bantry Harbour and Town. The cruise business has doubled with ten cruise liners expected to call in 2018.”
Following the recent announcement by Brittany Ferries on their new twice weekly Ro-Pax route from Cork to Santander due to commence in April 2018, Mr Keating said: “In 2018 Brittany Ferries celebrate 40 years operating in Ireland and we are very pleased with the announcement of this new route both in terms of tourism and trade. The current weekly route from Cork to Roscoff continues to strengthening with Brittany Ferries carrying over 80,000 passengers in 2017 and we look forward with great optimism to additional passengers availing of Brittany Ferries new service and the second call to Roscoff per week.”
In 2017 the Port of Cork Company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NextDecade Corporation (NASDAQ: NEXT), a U.S.-based Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to explore a joint development opportunity for a new Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) and associated LNG import terminal infrastructure in Cork Harbour.
Mr Keating said: “As an entry point into the Irish energy market, the Port of Cork is an attractive location for an FSRU-based LNG import terminal. Surrounded by existing marine infrastructure and industrial facilities, the proposed site is less than 2km from Gas Networks Ireland Grid and would benefit from relatively benign and attractive conditions.”
He continued: “Discussions are ongoing with the Port of Cork and NEXTDecade, as well as other key industry players, who are supportive of this project and we are excited by the opportunities that this project could present.”
In 2015 An Bord Pleanala granted a 10-year planning permission to Port of Cork for the redevelopment of the existing port facilities at Ringaskiddy and in 2017 An Bord Pleanala granted permission for alterations to the terms of the Ringaskiddy Port Development. The permission will enable the Port to deliver more efficient container handling facilities, replacing the existing container terminal at Tivoli, and securing Cork Container Terminal as an international gateway for trade well into the future.
Ringaskiddy Port Redevelopment will future proof Cork trade and Port of Cork look forward to the project progressing in 2018.