The volume of goods passing through Irish ports increased across all the main shipping segments during the 3rd quarter of 2010 compared to the same period last year, with containerized exports up 12%.
Roll-on/roll-Off volumes on Ireland – UK routes is up 3%, dry bulk volumes up 40%, and liquid bulk up 19%. This is according to latest figures released by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO).
Shipments of container traffic through ROI ports recorded a quarter-on-quarter volume growth for the 3rd quarter 2010 up 4% to 218,377 TEUs (Twenty-Equivalent Units). This was primarily as a result of strong export demand which rose by 12% in the last quarter. This sector is characterized by export traffic to USA and Asia largely influenced by the multinational chemical and pharmaceutical industries and also established indigenous Irish exporting companies. The other factor contributing to the aggregate rise was the increase in container imports during this period. This was also the first quarter-on-quarter growth in import volumes since the beginning of 2009.
Roll-on/roll-off (ro/ro) traffic to the UK from ROI ports continued to make a steady recovery up 3% for the 3rd quarter which is consistent with overall figures for the 9 months from Jan – Sept period which is up 3%, to 568,833 units. The ro/ro segment is largely weighted towards services to and from the UK which remains our largest trading partner.
Dry bulk traffic through all Irish Ports continued to recover some of the large volume losses experienced in 2009 and is up 40% for the 3rd quarter compared to the same period last year and 26% for the first 9 months of 2010. Part of the rise is attributed to strong global demand for ore and mineral products such as alumina, while domestic demand in the agricultural sector experienced a rise in imports of grains, feeds and fertilizers. While the overall picture is positive; the main volume gains are distributed to the larger ports with some of the smaller regional ports still in negative territory.
Break bulk volumes of construction related products fell again in the third quarter, bringing the total decline for the third quarter to -10%. Between 2008 and 2010 over 700,000 tonnes of break bulk commodities have been lost from the market. Importantly the fall off in volumes has not slowed in 2010 with an average quarterly drop of 10%.
Liquid bulk volume rose in Q3 by 19% year-on-year. However overall volumes for the first 9 months of the year remain unchanged.
The outlook for the remainder of the year suggests that some volume recovery in the main market segments will be achieved this year. However the total volume in many segments are still running at 35% less than 2007 volumes. Many shipping operators also comment that while export volumes have remained resilient over this period, there are few new companies emerging in the export market. Otherwise there are concerns about the impact of austerity measures in the Euro zone and at home.