State-owned Shannon Foynes port has reported a 7.6 per cent decline in turnover last year to €12.9 million as pre-tax profits fell from €4.9 million to €3.1 million due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
Chief executive Pat Keating said it was a solid performance despite the unprecedented challenges faced by the facility, which is the country's largest bulk port for non-container freight.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) for the year were €5.6 million, slightly up on the prior year despite a 94 per cent decline in throughput at the Moneypoint terminal due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Overall throughput at Shannon Foynes last year totalled 9.458 million tonnes, down 1.9 per cent or 185,000 tonnes versus 2019.
“Covid-19 impacted throughput of cargoes such as liquid fuels including aviation fuel and construction cargoes. With the associated lockdowns restricting traffic movements and with no foreign tourists, transport fuels including aviation fuels reduced in 2020,” the company said.
It said the largest impact on throughput occurred in the second quarter although this was partially offset by a final surge in the last three months of the year.
“We remain confident that there are significant opportunities to grow and expand the port at the operating level. While 2020 was an outlier for obvious reasons, we have identified targeted areas that will drive revenue growth over the short medium and long term,” it added.
These opportunities include making the Shannon estuary and the wider west coast a strategic location for the development of floating offshore wind technology. A Shannon Foynes port company report published last year estimated that as many as 30,000 jobs could be created in the coming years by realising the economic potential that offshore floating wind presents for the region.
Mr Keating said Brexit had little or no impact on its 2020 performance, with the last-minute deal between the UK and the European Union bringing certainty. However, he added that risks remain.
No dividend was paid to the State last year thought the report said the company expects to pay one in the “coming year”. It paid a dividend of €350,000 in 2019.