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Oil figures disguise record year for Port of London

In 1999 non-fuel trade through the Port of London hit a new record level of 29.5 million tonnes, exceeding the 1998 record by 1.2 million tonnes. The figures published in the Port of London Authority’s (PLA) Annual Report and Accounts today (Tuesday 16 May), show that unitised loads rose by nearly 10%, accounting for over one third of non-fuel trade.

Oil traffic, however, dipped due to a combination of the closure of the Shell refinery at Shell Haven and a temporary reduction of throughput at the larger BP refinery at Coryton.

The combined effect was that total tonnage through the Port was 52.4 million tonnes, as compared with 54.00 million tonnes in 1998 (excluding sludge traffic).

The closure of Shell Haven is estimated to reduce London's trade by over 7 million tonnes in the current year and the PLA's revenue by 14%. PLA made an overall profit of £1.775 million in 1999 but this included Shell oil revenue for much of the year and substantial landfill royalties.

The PLA took immediate steps in 1999 to reduce its costs and has now put in place additional measures designed to achieve break-even in operating terms by the end of 2000.

In his final annual statement (See Notes to Editors) before retiring from the Board in December 2000, PLA Chairman Sir Brian Shaw pays tribute to the skill and dedication of PLA staff. He acknowledges that their loyalty has been put to the test by the stringent measures the Board has felt obliged to take.

While stating that the difficulties are not capable of resolution by a "quick fix", he goes on to say "I am convinced that the Port, the PLA and its employees can look forward to growth and prosperity in the years ahead.".

One of the reasons for optimism is the prospect of redevelopment of the Shell Haven site for port use. PLA is working closely with Shell and P&O who were given exclusive rights to develop a proposal for a major world class container terminal. Together, the parties are in exploratory discussions with the local planning authority and other agencies to facilitate what will be a massive and strategically important port site serving London and the South East.

Sir Brian looked forward to the PLA working with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Mayor of London on strategic planning matters affecting the tidal Thames. "We are greatly encouraged by those provisions in the Greater London Act which should lead to even greater use of the River for the transport of freight (including waste) and passengers and for leisure."

Note to Editors:

The Port of London Authority

The Port of London Authority (PLA) is a Public Trust established in 1908 to "administer, preserve and improve the Port of London". Currently it is constituted under the Port of London Act 1968 and Harbour Revision Orders of 1975, 1992 and 1999. It has no equity capital and all its operations are financed from revenue with no outside support. The PLA Board comprises a Chairman and up to seven non-executive members appointed by the Secretary of state for the Environment, Transport and the regions, and up to four executive members appointed by the Board.

The PLA has statutory responsibility for the conservancy and regulation of navigation of 150km of the tidal River Thames from the estuary to Teddington and owns much of the riverbed and foreshore to the high water mark. It provides navigational services for ships using the Port of London, including the maintenance of shipping channels, moorings, lights and buoys. The PLA is also the pilotage authority for the tidal Thames and is actively engaged in the promotion of the Port of London.

Sir Brian Shaw

Sir Brian Shaw retires as Chairman of the PLA on 31 December 2000 at the end of his statutory term. He has held the post of Chairman since 1993 and has been a Board Member since 1987.


Further Information From: Geoff Adam
Port of London Authority