The latest quarterly iShip Index, published by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) shows that shipping and port activity in the Republic of Ireland rose by 12% in the third quarter of 2015 when compared with the same period in 2014. The latest analysis also indicates that all of the five principal freight segments grew during that period.
Unitised traffic, which consists of Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro/Ro) and Lift-on/Lift-off (Lo/Lo) traffic, continued to rise steadily and has now shown consistent growth for an extended period, with an average growth rate of 6% per quarter in unitised traffic since Q2 2013 as measured by the iShip Index.
The majority of Ro/Ro traffic moves between Ireland and Great Britain and this freight segment is a simple but reliable indicator of the level of trade between both economies. Encouragingly, the Ro/Ro freight sector saw volume growth of 6% in the third quarter to 254,068 units.
Lo/Lo laden imports have now risen for eight consecutive quarters, reaching 96,828 teu in Q3, 2015. Lo/Lo laden exports grew 0.4% from the previous quarter to reach 68,249 teu in Q3, 2015. Overall, Lo/Lo container traffic increased 2% to 165,076 teu in the same period.
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 5% in Q3 2015. All Island traffic in the Lo/Lo laden sector grew 3% overall, with imports rising 3% and exports by 4% for Q3 2015.
The overall bulk traffic segment saw tonnage volumes increase by 19%, excluding transhipments, when compared to the previous year. Liquid bulk increased substantially by 31%. However, this increase was driven to a large extent by a temporary anomaly in the market in Q3 2014. Break bulk, which largely consists of imports of construction and project related commodities, increased by 6%. Break bulk has now seen ten consecutive quarterly increases. There was a 12% increase in dry bulk traffic for Q3 2015 with trade in cement and animal feed showing significant growth. However, there is a high degree of fluctuation in traffic volume typical in the dry bulk market when viewed on a quarterly basis.