Movement of goods and people is key to any economy and Dublin is addressing the increase in volume by investing in redevelopment, we speak with Pat Ward Head of Corporate Services Dublin Port Company to find out what’s on the horizon
New European Economy: Dublin has had a steady increase in traffic and cargo recently as well as major international cruise liners. What sort of figures are Dublin Port Authority currently doing compared to before 2008?
Pat Ward: Dublin Port’s volumes are growing rapidly. In the three years from 2013 to 2015, cargo volumes grew by 17.3% and, in the first half of 2016, they grew by a further 8.0%. Total throughput for 2015 was 32.8 million gross tonnes with 7,166 ship arrivals in the year, exceeding the port’s previous record levels of 2007. Looking specifically at the ten year period from 1997 to 2007, throughput at the port was increasing year on year, growing from 16.9 million gross tonnes to the previously held record of 30.9 million gross tonnes in 2007. This has since been eclipsed by the growth of 2015. Were these recent rates of growth to persist into the future, the Port’s volumes would double over the 13 years to 2026.
NEE: Why do you think there has been such an increase in shipping and containers to Dublin over the last two years?
P.W: A combination of factors; in previous years, growth in Dublin Port was driven by increasing exports. However, in 2015, the strengthening of domestic demand saw imports rise slightly faster than exports. Volumes in 2015 were 1.9 million gross tonnes or 6.1% higher than in the Port’s previous record year of 2007.
“Dublin Port Company’s €230 million Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR) Project will largely be completed in the next four years.”
A commitment to investment by Dublin Port Company itself and private companies operating at the port has undoubtedly played a role. Private companies have invested more than €80 million in cranes and other handling equipment over the past number of years, signalling the Port’s readiness to meet demand, which in turn encourages it. Dublin Port Company itself is investing €230 million in its Alexandra Basin Redevelopment project, the largest single redevelopment of port infrastructure in the history of the port to meet the future demands of the industry.
NEE: How do you see Dublin port compared to the volume of Cargo of Rotterdam or Antwerp?
P.W: Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port and its cargo volumes reflect the size and scale of its operations and favourable geographic location. As Ireland’s largest and busiest port, Dublin Port enjoys its own unique position in the market, with easy access to important shipping routes and road networks for an increasing number of customers. Last year was an exceptional year for Dublin Port, with trade volumes exceeding all previous records, with 2016 set to be another record-breaking year.
NEE: How do you see Dublin in relation to the future of attracting more major cruise liners. Will Dublin Port Authority be promoting itself as a major port for cruise liners in the next 5 years?
P.W: Yes, absolutely. Dublin Port Company has established Cruise Dublin, a new Cruise Tourism Development and Marketing agency to grow Dublin as Ireland’s premier port of choice for cruise. Cruise Dublin’s role is to promote Dublin to cruise lines internationally, working collectively with its members who are drawn from the city’s leading retail outlets, visitor experiences and tourism bodies. Its formation comes as cruise tourism is growing at a rate of 20 per cent per annum at Dublin Port, and projected to grow substantially in the coming years. This year alone Dublin Port has scheduled 113 cruise calls for the season, the largest number to date.
Dublin Port Company’s €230 million Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR) Project will largely be completed in the next four years, meaning that larger ships, including the world’s largest cruise liners, will be able to routinely call at Dublin, turn within the expanded Alexandra Basin West and berth as far upriver as East Link Bridge, adding a new dimension to the cityscape.