Profits at the Port of Cork fell by 22% last year to €4.1 million as a result of a sharp drop in traffic at its facilities in both Cork and Bantry.
In its annual financial statement for 2016, the company reported that the amount of cargo passing through the port had fallen by 13.6% — with the Port of Cork handling 9.5m tonnes last year compared to 11m tonnes in 2015. Turnover fell slightly to €29.6m from €29.8m in 2015.
Port of Cork chairman John Mullins, said profits had decreased by €1.1m in 2016 from €5.2m the previous year. Mr Mullins attributed the downturn in business to a combination of reduced oil throughput at both Whitegate and Bantry as well as the loss of 200,000 tonnes of cargo following the closure of the lead and zinc mine at Lisheen. He said oil traffic to the refinery at Whitegate remained the most significant trade in the Port of Cork with more than 5.3m tonnes passing through the facility last year.
Mr Mullins welcomed the agreement last August by Irving Oil, a Canadian oil refining company, to purchase the Whitegate refinery with the intention of keeping it as a going operation. However, he said the reduction in oil traffic at the Zenith Energy storage facility on Whiddy Island which fell from over 1.1m tonnes to 2015 to under 300,000 tonnes last year was a concern, particularly as the Port of Cork was investing €8.9m in its facilities at Bantry. The number of motor vehicles imported through Cork also fell last year by 4% to just under 47,000 cars. Imports of cereals and timber and exports of woodchips also recorded a downturn in business last year. On a more positive note, the Port of Cork reported a 2% rise in container traffic, while imports of animal feed, fertilisers, coal, liquid petroleum gas, chemicals and cement all increased. Although Cork was overtaken by Dublin last year as the Irish port with the most number of passengers on visiting cruise ships, a total of 58 liners stopped off at berthing facilities in Ringsaskiddy and Cobh.
Mr Mullins said there was a significant increase in bookings from cruise ships this year. A €1.5m project to upgrade and expand cruise berthing facilities at Cobh’s deepwater cruise terminal to accommodate the largest ocean-going liners was completed last year. There was a slight reduction in the numbers travelling on Britanny Ferries sailings out of Cork during 2016 as a result of the cancellation of two sailings in May 2016 due to technical faults. Mr Mullins said the first phase of an €82m strategic development plan would be operational by 2020. The annual report reveals chief executive, Brendan Keating enjoyed a total pay package of €240,475 last year.
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