Tonnage volumes at Dublin Port recover slightly
After nine months, volumes are down 6.9% compared with the same period last year
Monthly trade volumes have been comparatively strong, culminating in growth of 1.2% in the third quarter. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Tonnage volumes at Dublin Port recovered slightly in the third quarter following steep declines earlier in the year due to Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest figures from Dublin Port Company show an increase in overall port tonnage of 1.2 per cent for the quarter. After nine months, volumes are down 6.9 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Having seen a decline of 4.8 per cent in first quarter due to Brexit stockpiling, there was a further and steeper decline in the second quarter of 17 per cent as Covid-19 impacted the country.
Since then, monthly trade volumes have been comparatively strong, culminating in growth of 1.2 per cent from July to September, which was export led.
Exports for the three months grew 6.6 per cent, more than offsetting the 2.4 per cent decline in imports.
Unitised trade (trailers and containers combined) grew 3.1 per cent to 384,000 units during the quarter, with roll on-roll off growing 4.1 per cent to 276,000 units and lift on-lift off by 0.2 per cent to 192,000.
Imports of new trade vehicles decreased marginally by 0.6 per cent to 12,400 units. For the nine months to September, 53,000 new trade vehicles have been imported through Dublin Port, a decline of 29.3 per cent compared with last year.
Bulk liquid volumes, primarily petroleum products, fell 20.4 per cent to 972,000 tonnes during the quarter and are down by almost the same level (18.4 per cent) year to date.
Bulk solid commodities (including animal feed, ore concentrates from Tara Mines, bulk cement products and scrap metals) grew 56 per cent to 515,000 tonnes.
Ferry passenger numbers decreased 66.2 per cent to 264,000. This figure includes heavy goods vehicle drivers. The number of tourist vehicles fell 64.6 per cent to 79,000.
There were no cruise ship calls to Dublin Port during the period and none are anticipated for the remainder of the year.
Dublin Port chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly said growth of 1.2 per cent in the third quarter was “remarkable” and the outlook for the full year was “nowhere near as bad as we had feared it might be just a few months ago”.
“At the rate we are going, we could end the year down by not much more than 6 per cent,” he said.
“By comparison, after the peak of 2007, we saw declines of 4.4 per cent in 2008 followed by 10.4 per cent in 2009. Importantly, our monthly volumes during this recession are a million tonnes ahead of where they were at the corresponding point in the previous recession.
“The most dramatic impact from the recession has been the decline of one-fifth in petroleum imports both in the third quarter and year to date. One-third of all of the country’s energy requirements are met by petroleum imports through Dublin Port.”
Mr O’Reilly added that Brexit remained a major unknown. “Like everyone else, we hope that a trade deal is done which obviates the need for much of the infrastructure that has had to be provided to mitigate this risk,” he said.
“Dublin Port Company alone has invested €30 million to prepare for Brexit.”