Chairman John Mullins said the port also took over the running of Bantry last year. He said the performance in the West Cork town and the two Cork terminals was “very encouraging” and remained confident the level of growth will be maintained through 2015 and beyond.
However, overall traffic in both Cork and Bantry experienced a drop of 4% in trade on 2013. Mr Mullins said it was primarily due to unseasonably fine weather in 2014 which saw a reduction of 22% in both animal feed and cereal imports, and that, generally, challenging market conditions affected overall traffic. An improvement in this sector is expected this year.
Oil traffic through Whitegate refinery, currently owned and operated by Phillips 66, continues to have a significant impact on the overall traffic through the Port of Cork.
“Oil traffic through the Port of Cork in 2014 experienced a marginal 1.5% decrease on 2013, primarily due to the maintenance shut-down in the Whitegate refinery which affected refining for six weeks in July and August of 2014,” Mr Mullins said.
“Traffic from the Bantry Bay oil storage terminal, also operated by Phillips 66, which accounts for 100% of the commercial traffic through Bantry Bay Port, saw an 11% decrease in oil traffic in 2014.
“The decrease in (overall) traffic volumes during 2014 is primarily due to a reduction in imports of animal feeds, cereals, salt, and coal, combined with a lack of oil exploration activity compared to 2013.”
Overall, he said the port authority in Cork was encouraged by the significantly increased container volumes last year. “I am confident that we can sustain this growth in 2015, while continuing to seek other opportunities for increasing trade through the port. Consumer confidence is on the rise and we expect that this in turn will bring a surge in consumer goods imported during 2015. Our move to Ringaskiddy is vitally important to meet expected growth.”
Meanwhile, the Port of Cork cruise business continues to grow year on year, with 53 cruise liners calling in 2014, some carrying in excess of 4,000 passengers.
Mr Mullins said, in total, the liners brought more than 119,000 passengers and crew. “These transit visitors are a welcome economic stimulus for Cork, bringing a much needed boost to the local economy for eight months of the year.”