Port Of Call : An Interview with the CEO of the Port Of Cork
Brendan Keating, Chief Executive, Port of Cork Company since December 2002. Prior to that he was City Manager in Limerick for 4 years and before that he was Assistant City Manager in Cork City. In the position of Chief Executive his primary focus has been on the development and growth of business along with planning port infrastructure. His commitment to the delivery of higher levels of efficiency and quality of port services has been central to the continued success of the company.
Q. Please give us a perspective of the strategic importance of the Port of Cork in the context of logistics and transport?
Port of Cork currently handles 22% of the total Irish market for all cargo. Significantly, 40% of all Liquid Bulk Cargo (Oil) passes through the Port and 24% of all containerised cargo*. Along with Dublin and Shannon Foynes, Port of Cork was designated as a Tier 1 Port of National Significance in 2013 in the Government’s National Ports Policy.
The Port of Cork was also recognised as a Core Network port under the EU Trans- European Network -Transport (TEN-T) – in recognition of its strategic importance to the island of Ireland where practically all trade is exported by sea (92% of total goods transit by sea).
The Port of Cork currently supports seven shipping sectors; Lo-Lo, Ro-Ro, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk, Liquid Bulk and Cruise in our facilities in the City Quays, Tivoli, Ringaskiddy and Tivoli.
Q. What is the overall economic benefit of the Port of Cork?
The Port of Cork had a turnover of almost 25m in 2014. The Port of Cork established a subsidiary company in 2014 and now owns Bantry Port. This allows it to achieve greater volumes and efficiencies. Vessels using the Port of Cork include feeder containers from Rotterdam; Amsterdam; Felixstowe; Southampton and Le Harve, a Caribbean-Cork service by Fyffes/operated by Maersk as well as bulker carriers from North Africa; North and South America and the Far East as well as cruise vessels relocating from the Caribbean and Miami.
The Port of Cork has an ever increasing role in the distribution of goods and commodities consistent with the growth of the maritime transport sector. Trade cars through the Port of Cork were up 25% in 2014 while the agricultural sector imports of cereal and animal feed was down on previous years to the exceptional summer. The Port of Cork is committed to seeking out new business opportunities for the port and the Agri sector presents significant opportunities for exports with the lifting of the Common Agriculture Policy production limits this year Brendan Keating, Chief Executive, Port of Cork Company since December 2002. Prior to that he was City Manager in Limerick for 4 years and before that he was Assistant City Manager in Cork City.
In the position of Chief Executive his primary focus has been on the development and growth of business along with planning port infrastructure. His commitment to the delivery of higher levels of efficiency and quality of port services has been central to the continued success of the company. and a projected national dairy output growth of 50% largely concentrated in Muster and South Leinster. Indecon estimates that the operation of the port directly supports 866 full-time equivalent jobs and 1,267 FTEs on an economy-wide basis when multiplier effects are taken into account.*
Q. Why does the Port wish to relocate to the lower harbour area of Ringaskiddy?
The Port of Cork has always been a river port, it has supported the development of Cork City and County since both City and Port were first established. However, it is now the constraints of a busy surrounding city and relativity shallow upper river depths that are factors in our move down river to deep water facilities. Being able to accommodate larger vessels is vital if the Port of Cork is to remain competitive. There is an acceleration by shipping companies in the utilisation of larger vessels.
Shipping companies must achieve economies of scale for the purpose of surviving and growing their businesses, this is evident when we see new ultra large vessels coming on-line in recent years. Recently we have seen 400 metre vessels being delivered to shipping lines that have the capacity to load approx. 18,000 TEU. Irish ports’ will most probably never accommodate such huge vessels, however the trickle-down effect will see all vessel sizes increase in the coming years. This is turn requires that ports like ours respond to and provide the necessary infrastructure to accommodate these vessels.
In doing this, we will sustain our business and strengthen our position as an international gateway for trade. It will future proof the port and ensures that businesses can continue to engage in trading activity through the port which handles about 4,000 ship movements in the harbour per annum. The recent decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant planning permission for the Ringaskiddy Port redevelopment project in the lower harbour will meet the business needs of the Port of Cork and the economic requirements of the region for years to come. The development, which will involve an investment of approximately 100m, will form an addition to the existing facilities that the port currently operates in Cork and is expected to be operational from early 2018.
Q. Can you give us an overview of the changes that the transport & logistics sector will see with the move?
The present container terminal in Tivoli has limited capacity for the future which will not match projected growth levels. The current terminal is also located within the City limits which can at times suffer traffic congestion problems.
It is our ambition that the development in Ringaskiddy which will be the first fully developed “green field” site in Ireland for decades will offer an integrated solution for both the port and transport and logisitics sector. We hope to provide a template for a cluster of logistic based operations within and adjacent to the main container terminal, which we feel will assist in reducing the cost to the wider industries that utilise the Port to import and export their goods.
The container terminal itself will operate with the most updated and modern cargo handling equipment on the market today, which will enable us to provide an effective and efficient service to port users. The new terminal combined with the expected development of the N28 will support a fast turnaround for logistic providers and mainline hauliers that use the port on a daily basis. As a condition of planning the Port must introduce and maintain a “Traffic Mobility Management Plan” for the new port area until the N28 road is fully completed.
The mobility plan will include a “vehicle booking system” for all HGVs arriving at the port, we understand that this is a dramatic departure from the current situation; however such systems have been in place UK terminals for many years and operate very successfully. The fundamentals of such systems aim to control traffic flows on the approach roads, reduce waiting time for hauliers and increase the efficiency of the terminal operations. A recent trial of such a system in Tivoli container terminal proved very successful with some hauliers, turnaround time was predictable and hence the haulage company had a much better daily planning profile.
The Port of Cork Company would hope to achieve Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) status in the new container facility at Ringaskiddy. AEO status is primarily a trade facilitation measure. Operators established in the EU that meet specific qualifying criteria, may apply for and receive AEO certification.
The aim of the AEO programme is to enhance security through granting recognition to reliable operators and encouraging best practice at all levels in the international supply chain. The EU AEO programme is one part of a worldwide initiative to secure the “Global Supply Chain”. As trade is vital to economic development, steps taken to secure global trade must not undermine legitimate trade flows and equal steps must be taken to facilitate legitimate trade in every way possible.
*Indecon International Economic Consultants, 2014 (Below: Brendan Keating, CEO of the Port Of Cork)