An independent consultant’s report has today revealed that Shannon Foynes Port Company facilitates trade valued at €7.6bn per annum.
Of this figure there is an economic impact of €1.9bn, equivalent to 1% of Ireland’s entire GDP. Launched in Foynes by Limerick based Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan TD, the Economic Impact Assessment (EIA) compiled by strategic research consultants W2 Consulting also predicts that unprecedented levels of investment at the company’s ports and on the estuary over recent years are set to continue, with €1.8bn in capital expenditure planned for the lifetime of the port authority’s masterplan, Vision 2041.
In the first ever detailed analysis of the value of commercial marine activities on the estuary, the EIA, based on 2014 data, reveals projected capital expenditure levels by SFPC and its customers in the five years up to 2019 will reach €277m and support 3,372 jobs in the regional economy. Of this, €38m alone was spent at Foynes, the company’s largest port, last year.
The publication of the report follows a very significant rebound by SFPC from the lows of the downturn, with tonnage throughput at the company’s key ports of Foynes and Limerick now at peak levels of the boom from the last decade, despite a severe global contraction in the shipping industry.
Ambitious plans of the company are validated by the report. The company is determined to help transform the estuary into an international economic hub by taking advantage of what are among the deepest and sheltered harbours in Europe and the world. These plans have also now been underpinned by the now finalised Strategic Integrated Framework Plan for the estuary –involving all three (Clare, Kerry and Limerick) local authorities on the estuary – which has zoned an additional 1,200 hectares for port development.
Welcoming the report, Minister O’Donovan said: “This report reaffirms the key role that SFPC and the estuary plays in the national economy. It will, no doubt, catch some people by surprise as the scale of that contribution was largely unknown until now, except to the port authority itself. Shannon Foynes Port Company is one of few companies that is now outpacing growth achieved at the height of the economic boom, with very substantial benefit to the region and nation.”
Among other key findings from the EIA are:
- The commercial activity of SFPC and its customers resulted in €356 million of expenditure in the regional economy on non-labour goods and services
- Projections among SFPC customers and third party investors limited to a number of major projects in the energy sector would result in €1.34 billion of private capital expenditure over the lifetime of the masterplan
- The employment impact of this level of investment has the capacity to support over 22,000 FTE’s in the region
SPFC Chairman Michael Collins commented “We’ve steadily grown our operations here to a degree that this year we will surpass tonnage levels achieved at the height of the boom. We have a clear vision for the company that envisages it doubling its trade over the lifetime of our masterplan and driving very significant employment growth across the region.
“We look forward to the future with confidence, always recognising that our two key areas are, one, continuing to grow the customer base at the bulk ports of Limerick and Foynes and I can say that very exciting opportunities are being worked on at both ports; and two, attracting a major FDI requiring deep water facilities. We are now at the level of engagement with multi-national enterprises involved in global shipping, terminal operations and related transport activities with an eye on investing in the estuary.”
Pat Keating, CEO of Shannon Foynes Port Company stated “Our focus is on maximising trade growth by attracting significant port related indigenous and foreign direct investment that requires modern and efficient deep water port facilities. There’s much to do to achieve this but our task is assisted by the fact that we have deep waters unrivalled in a national context and of significance internationally.
“Essential for the realisation of this potential is the delivery of new Limerick to Foynes road upgrade scheme, which is included in the Government’s Capital Investment Plan and we note Minister O’Donvan’s continuing support in relation to this project. The other key project is the regeneration of the disused Limerick to Foynes rail link and a major feasibility study is being advanced in relation to that.”
Report author Mark O’Connell remarked “Shannon Foynes Port Company and the estuary is already, as we have found in the primary data we gathered for this report, contributing to the regional and national economy at a level that very few are aware of until now.
He added “The company has made considerable gains over recent years in trade and has already delivered and attracted very significant levels of investment since the launch of its masterplan in 2013. The opportunity going forward is for a lot more of the same. If you take the capital expenditure of €277m planned by SFPC and its customers up to 2019, that’s almost seven times the investment in redeveloping Thomond Park. That’s an indication of the importance that the port authority and the estuary will have in the years ahead.”