BUSY traffic to and from the national oil reserve facility at Whiddy Island led to the Bantry Bay Port Company recording a strong performance last year, despite its sister port, Port of Cork, seeing trade falling 2% to 9.2m tonnes last year.
The Bantry Bay Port Company, by far the smaller ‘sister’ port, saw its total traffic jump a massive 81% to 1.3m tonnes, compared to the previous year.
The overall Port of Cork dip is a direct result of the challenges posed by Covid-19, and the cancellation of cruise calls in particular.
But a spokesperson for both companies said the strong Bantry result could be attributed to ‘increased traffic movements to and from the National Oil Reserve’.
‘We also saw a surge in the need for oil storage,’ the spokesperson added.
Despite various challenges, container traffic through the Cork city port was up 4%.
The port attributes the strong performance in this area to several drivers, chief amongst them a demand from customers for direct routes, resulting in the introduction of several new container services.
Last April a new weekly freight service began between Cork and Zeebrugge. This route subsequently increased to twice weekly, highlighting the positive demand for direct, unaccompanied freight links to the EU, as shippers look to avoid the uncertainty surrounding the UK land bridge as consequence of Brexit, the Port said.
A further new route was established in June 2020, when Independent Container Line (ICL) commenced a new weekly direct service from Cork to USA, giving Ireland its first direct container service to the USA in many years.
Unfortunately, Covid 19 impacted heavily on the Port’s tourism-related activities, with Brittany Ferries services to the continent decreasing sharply and only two cruise ship calls completed, compared to over a hundred calls in the previous year.
‘The outlook for a return to cruise activities in particular remains poor and will remain so until the worst of the pandemic has passed and confidence in that sector can start to rebuild,’ the statement concluded.