The Emerald Isle: Shipping On The Up


The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) has announced that shipping and port activity in the Republic of Ireland rose by 2% in Q3 2016 when compared to the corresponding period of 2015.

Unitised traffic – which consists of Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro/Ro) and Lift-on/Lift-off (Lo/Lo) traffic – continued to rise steadily. Unitised traffic for this quarter grew by 6% when compared to Q3 2015.

The majority of Ro/Ro traffic moves between Ireland and Great Britain, meaning this freight segment is a simple but reliable indicator of the level of trade between both economies. The Ro/Ro freight sector saw volume growth of 5% in Q3. However, this is the fourth consecutive Q3 increase in this freight category since 2012.

As for Lo/Lo traffic, this has now seen three consecutive Q3 increases, the largest of which (6%) has come this quarter. Both Lo/Lo imports and exports performed strongly, rising by 5% and 7% respectively. Overall, Lo/Lo laden traffic in ROI increased 6% to 174,791 TEU.

When reviewing unitised traffic it is worth noting that both Lo/Lo and Ro/Ro freight move in an all-island setting. Therefore, when Northern Irish ports are included, all-island Ro/Ro volume grew by 4% in Q3 2016, while all-island Lo/Lo traffic grew by 2%. All island traffic in the Lo/Lo sector has grown 4% since January 2016, with imports rising 4% and exports 3% during that period.

The overall bulk traffic segment saw tonnage volumes decrease by 0.02%, excluding transshipments, when compared to the previous year. This was driven primarily by a 10% drop-off in liquid bulk as well as a 14% drop in coal. Break bulk, which largely consists of imports of construction and project related commodities, increased by 7%. There was a 3% rise in dry bulk traffic for Q3 2016 driven mainly by fertilizer. This reflects the reality that a high degree of fluctuation in traffic volume is typical in the dry bulk market when viewed on a quarterly basis.

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