Easing the way through the ports for Irish goods exporters and importers

With the active assistance of the major Irish Ports and the Port Communities as well as of members of the IEA Regional Groups, the IEA has, over the last seven months, sought to ease the way through the ports for Irish Goods exporters and importers.

The principal focus of the work has been on cargo being shipped as unit loads in either trailers or lift-on/lift-off (Lo/Lo) containers. In all cases the Ports concerned have developed and are implementing Development masterplans with a twenty-year timeline.

Dublin Port.

Dublin Port operates on a landlord model in which the Port Company owns and manages the Port Estate as well as providing the necessary services to enable ships to access the port and terminals. Cargo handling is done by independent terminal operators on land leased from the Port Company.

During 2022 the Port has revised the road network within the Port and undertaken major terminal developments which will rationalize the Ro-Ro vessel operations. This will involve the shifting of some services to new locations in early 2023.

Empty container storage and maintenance has been a contentious issue in Dublin Port for many years. Dublin Port Company has developed a Dublin inland port facility located close to Dublin Airport and Dublin Ferry Terminals took a lease on the first section opening it in February this year. The Port expects the second phase of the development to be opened in early 2023 before moving on the development of a laden container storage facility. Stateline Containers have also opened a facility close to the M50 while MTL have further developed their Rushfleet container storage facility on the Poolbeg peninsula.

The Lo-Lo Terminal Operators have extended their gate opening hours during 2022, while the hours at the empty depots have also been extended. The IEA has been encouraging member companies to make greater use of the “off-peak” hours at these facilities. The Terminals will all operate “Vehicle Booking Systems” (VBS) and other technology to minimize delays for hauliers within the next few months.

Due to better management by traders of customs and other regulatory controls, the imposition of a four-day free time limit at Port Terminals has not caused major unresolved difficulties. It is unlikely, however, that this time-limit will be changed in the coming months.

Crucially the work led by the IEA has led to an active dialogue with the firms and Agencies involved at Dublin Port, but there is scope for more to be done here.

Cork Port

Operations through Cork Port’s deep-water container terminal at Ringaskiddy started in March 2022. The new facility has significantly speeded up handling of Ireland’s only Ocean container services, Independent Container Line to and from US ports and Maersk Line from and to Central American Ports. X-Press Feeders has recently added Cork to an Iberian service using vessels that would not be able to operate through the Tivoli Terminal close to Cork City. The Port Company is frustrated by the slow progress being made in linking Ringaskiddy to the National Motorway Network. Until that work is complete the established services operating through Tivoli and the City Quays will not move to Ringaskiddy, meaning that the service operators will have to continue to use smaller vessels and incurring higher costs.

Foynes Port

The Shannon Foynes Port Company operated Foynes Port is the third Irish Port designated by the EU as a “Core Network” port. It is Ireland’s largest Bulk Cargo Port and has, during 2022, published reports indicating the port Company’s own plans and the Potential of the Shannon Estuary as a service base for Floating and other offshore energy projects as well as increasing volumes in bulk cargo. In October 2022 work started on the re-instatement of the Foynes/Limerick rail Line which is expected to be operational within two years.

Rosslare Europort

The Irish Rail managed port has been transformed since the UK pulled out of the European Union. While retaining the existing services to and from Wales and Cherbourg, services have been added to Bilbao, Le Havre, Dunkirk and Zeebrugge. A feature of 2022 has been new and existing operators adding capacity throughout the year while further capacity will be added in 2023. Several operators will add significant tourist traffic facilities ahead of the 2023 season.

The Port development is being undertaken with a masterplan that also includes the development of facilities to service the offshore wind industry, while Wexford County Council and other Agencies are upgrading Road and service infrastructure.


Waterford Port

The volumes of bulk traffic and containers shipping through Waterford Port continue to increase. Warehousing and related facilities are being expanded by a range of Operators and container volumes being shipped from Ballina into the Port by rail for shipment to and through Benelux also increase.

Outside Ireland

Almost all ports served by lines sailing from Ireland are engaged in continuous development seeking to handle traffic more efficiently and in a more climate friendly manner. Many have invested heavily in the development of third-party Distribution Centres and enhanced international rail links The IEA has an active dialogue with, in particular, the ports of Dunkirk, Cherbourg, Antwerp/Zeebrugge and Le Havre.

At Holyhead, Stena Line which owns the Port, and Anglesey County Council have announced their intention to, this month, submit a major Freeport bid to the UK Government. Stena Line is pledging a major foreign investment at the planned facility and has also invested recently in a 213-acre site. This is intended for use as a port extension and industrial area. Industrial backers of the Freeport include Rolls Royce, Bechtel, and Last Energy.

Ocean Seafreight rates

As discussed at several recent IEA Regional Group Meetings. The global economic slowdown has resulted in a significant fall-off in volumes of goods being shipped and a reduction of port congestion to “normal” levels. Though “Spot” Rates in Asia/Europe trade lanes are down to about a quarter of what they were at the peak just over a year ago the feeder costs have remained high, making the cost reduction less dramatic. Most lines have retained the contract rates agreed for 2022 but these are likely to fall for 2023.

Note that, up to today’s date, rates on North Atlantic Lanes have not reduced significantly due to high trade volumes. Airfreight rates have followed a similar trend.