Rosslare Port looking for investors
rosslare Europort is in the hunt for investors willing to commit up to €40 million for a major upgrade that will equip it to handle the ships of the future.
Iarnród Éireann, the Port Authority for Rosslare Europort, announced to port staff last week that it is to undertake an assessment of market interest in a concession with a third party to operate the Port.
The assessment follows a study by Indecon Consultants for the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport which examined strategic options for the future of the Europort, to maximise its potential and address future investment requirements.
The report recommended that the Europort remain in the ownership of Iarnród Éireann, but with a long term concession with a third party.
Iarnród Éireann briefed all 73 employees at the port and will now commence the process of consulting with the market to assess interest and evaluate opportunities from a concession structure, which would be commonplace in ports in the EU and beyond.
Rosslare Europort is Ireland's second busiest in terms of ship visits and unitised freight, and is designated as one of only five ports of national significance in the National Ports Policy. The Port has recorded growth of four per cent in freight units in 2015 to date, on top of a two per cent growth in 2014.
Port general manager John Lynch said every business needs investment if it is to prosper and grow, and like every other industry, 'we in the ports industry need to invest in our business'.
He said the trend was for longer and deeper ships, which meant the port had to modernise its infrastructure.
'If 20 years ago we hadn't put in place the infrastructure we have now and planned for the ships we have today, we wouldn't still be in business,' he told this newspaper.
'What we are doing now is planning for the ships that are going to be in Rosslare 20 or 30 years,' he said.
'We have identified a number of pssible development options. One is deepening the existing berth two to handle deeper roro ships and the other is the construction of a new berth on the reclaimed land that would have enough space capable of a ro ro ramp deeper water.
'We currently have 7.2 metres and that would allow for 9 or 11 metres with land reserved for a rail freight siding, freight storage beside the ship and crane operations beside the berth. It would be capable of handing everything but liquid bulk.
'What we are planning to do is to put in place a process which will take number of months and years. First we have to appoint consultants and test the market, to see what appetite for Rosslare there is out there.'
Mr. Lynch said the berth deepening option had, in 2010 been costed at €40.5 million, while the construction of a new berth, in a number of phases as the market demanded, would cost between €65 and €70 million.
He said the long-term ownership of the port would remain with Iarnród Éireann and so far it was premature to talk about what would happen in terms of the conditions any investor may be looking for.
'Once the consultants are appointed, we have to go out and see whether there are any private investors out there. If there are, they may like our ideas of they may have their own development ideas.. anything beyond this is pure speculation,' he said.
Port Captain Aedan Jameson said business had picked up this year with the shipping lines running routes to France and the UK and the planned visit in August of a German cruise liner, which should result in added spin-off business for Wexford town and district. The cruise ship, which will be anchored offshore, will however, only visit subject to the weather conditions.
It will be the first cruise ship visit to Rosslare Harbour since 1993.
Another German cruiser liner, the Braemar, is due to visit in 2016 and should be able to berth in the port.