Shannon Foynes Port Company related activity hits €1.9bn mark in a year – W2 Consulting Economic Impact Assessment reveals

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W2 Consulting presented the findings of an independent economic impact assessment before the report was formally launched by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport

The annual economic impact of Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC) related activity has reached €1.9bn – equivalent to 1% of Ireland’s entire GDP –  an economic assessment of the company the Shannon Estuary commercial output published today has revealed.

Launched in Foynes by Limerick based Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan, 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 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 report reveals projected capital expenditure levels by SFPC and its customers up to 2019 alone will reach €277m and support 3,372 full time equivalents (FTE’s) in the regional economy.

The report, which is based on 2014 data, shows that since the launch of Vision 2041 in 2013, already some €100m in investment has been committed by SFPC and third parties, with €38m of that spent last year.  The value of trade handled through SFPC, which is Ireland’s largest bulk port, for 2014 alone was €7.6 billion.

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 global collapse in the shipping industry.

The report validates the company’s ambitious plans to help transform the estuary into an international economic hub by taking advantage of what are among the deepest and sheltered harbours in Europe & 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.

The report is based on 2014 primary research undertaken at SFPC and its associated businesses, as well as at 31 companies who currently use SFPC ports for import/export business and port service providers.

Welcoming the report, Minister O’Donovan said:  “This report illustrates to one and all for the first time 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 semi-state, or indeed, private companies that is outpacing growth achieved at the height of the economic boom. The most exciting aspect of this is that its growth is absolutely sustainable because of the advantage it has over so many other European ports due to its unrivalled deep-waters. It’s an advantage that the port authority is carefully but ambitiously planning to exploit and this report reaffirms that.”

Among other key findings from the EIA are:

  • SFPC operations have an employment income effect of €9.4 million for the regional economy
  • The commercial activity of customers of SFPC resulted in €347.2 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
  • The regional economic impact of SFPC and associated service providers is €95.8 million

Said SPFC Chairman Michael Collins: “SFPC has come an awful long way from where it was eight years ago or so. In the latter part of the last decade this company was hanging on by its fingertips but today is achieve tonnage throughput, engaged in a capital expenditure programme and attracting inward investment on an unprecedented level.

“Perhaps one of the most significant barometers as to where this company is going is 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. They are interested because of the deep natural waters we have on the estuary but also because of the clear roadmap set out and level of investment already being pumped into the estuary, by us and by other third party investors.”

Said Pat Keating, CEO of Shannon Foynes Port Company, said:  “Our focus is on maximising a huge opportunity for this region and Ireland by virtue of the deep waters we have, waters that are unrivalled in a national and largely so in a European context.  We have very significant growth targets but delivering on this potential will be contingent on a number of things happening, including key third party projects that will enhance connectivity to our ports.

“In that regard, the inclusion of the new N69 link from Adare to Foynes in the Government’s Capital Investment Plan will be a game-changer for us and we note Minister O’Donvan’s support in ensuring this gets underway and is delivered as soon as possible.  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.”

Said report author Mark O’Connell:  “Shannon Foynes Port Company and the estuary is already, as we have found in the primary data we gathered for this report, contributes to the regional and national economy at a level that very few are aware of until now.  The company has had exponential 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 but 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.”

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