Dublin Port Company is planning to invest €1 billion in its facilities over the next ten years. The company had originally projected spending €600m but had to revise upwards its masterplan.
Eamonn O'Reilly, CEO of Dublin Port Company, said the port has seen such strong growth in cargo volumes, in imports and exports that it was necessary to revisit the plan, and change it. "When we first produced a master plan we were in the midst of a recession post 2007, and we produced what we thought looked like reasonable estimates. But the strength in the recovery and the pace of the recovery has been extraordinary," Mr O'Reilly said. "In the first six months of this year, for example, we increased by 5.2%. By the end of this year, we will be 28% ahead of where we were in 2007 ahead of the crash," he added.
Dublin Port Company has concrete plans to develop. "Concrete is the word. It's all concrete and steel. We've got to strengthen, deepen, and build new piers and jetties. We have to build out new yards, and big large open spaces," the company's CEO said.
Every one metre of quay wall that will be built at Dublin Port costs around €100,000. Every hectare of land that is developed at the port costs around €2.5/€3m. "Nothing that we do is cheap. Unfortunately we don't see a lot for the money that we spend because most of it is underneath the water but it is essential infrastructure," Mr O'Reilly said.
Dublin Port Company originally planned to deepen the port to 12 metres but decided against it. The port has a depth, at low tide of 7.8 metres. "When we did the masterplan, we thought we would ultimately bring Dublin to minus 12 metres, in two stages - go to 10 and then go to 12 metres. We started the project to go to 10, but Dublin Port will have reached its maximum capacity by the time we get around to even beginning the work to go to 12 metres," he explained.
Dublin Port will have reached its ultimate capacity by 2040, which is in line with Project Ireland 2040. "We'll bring it to its ultimate capacity, and that will be at a depth of minus ten metres. That's sufficient for the cargo that will fill up the port within that period," Eamonn O'Reilly said.
Bigger ships have already arrived at Dublin Port. Ferries are shallow drafted and tend not to need very deep water. "Around last October, a ship called Celine started on an existing service from Dublin to Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, and it take 8,000 metres, or 8 kilometres of vehicles on board. We have Irish Ferries' €130m investment in the WB Yeats that will be starting services between Dublin and Cherbourg. We are seeing larger ships coming already, tending now to go onto routes directly to continental Europe," he added.
Dublin Port is also making physical preparations as part of the development plans for Brexit. Mr O'Reilly said they are building the basic infrastructure that is needed "to put the man in the peak cap with the harp on it to check vehicles as they are coming off".
He said checks will be more sophisticated than that, and the firm is doing a lot of work with Government agencies. "We had 11 civil servants down at 5am last week to have a look at ships discharging, to get a sense of the scale of what's going to be necessary to make sure we don't get queues when the necessary checks are put in place - whenever that might be," the Dublin Port Company CEO said.
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