Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Port of Prince Rupert realizes 23 percent decline in cargo volume in 2021, remains optimistic for future growth

A growing Port footprint is moving forward despite a challenging
year for some of the PRPA stakeholders in 2021
(Photo from PRPA website)

There were no shortage of challenges to take on when it comes to the global shipping industry through the last twelve months and data released by the Prince Rupert Port Authority today,  highlights just how connected the community is now to the global economy and the headwinds that come along  to shape the movement of goods.

The PRPA released its annual review of cargo volume today, noting of 25 million tonnes of product and goods moving through the Prince Rupert Gateway in 2021.

A number which represents a 23 year decrease in year to year volumes between 2020 and 2021, a situation which the Port noted as uncharacteristic for the ports operations, noting of the choppy waters of 2021 for the global shipping industry and observing that with new capacity on stream the operations in Prince Rupert will bring confidence through 2022.

“With global supply chains experiencing unprecedented challenges and volatility, the Port of Prince Rupert remains proud to have been a leader in efficiency and fluidity on the West Coast and we hope to continue to offer an uncongested port of call for trans-Pacific trade as a key strategic gateway for Canada,.

 However, the decline in volumes reflects that our terminals and partners are in an extremely dynamic and competitive market, and emphasizes the importance of our work to position the Port of Prince Rupert for targetted growth in capacity and further diversification of our cargoes.” -- Shaun Stevenson, President and CEO, Prince Rupert Port Authority. 

The final totals for 2021 show a decline in cargo through the terminals
of the Prince Rupert Port Authority 

The Port’s 25,014,134 tonnes in total volume included a record year afor AltaGas’ Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal with 1,493,876 tonnes handled and the addition of Pembina’s Watson Island LPG Bulk Terminal coming online with 370,525 tonnes exported. 

The Westview Pellet Terminal, owned and operated by Pinnacle Renewable Energy, now a subsidiary of Drax Group, had a strong year, exporting 1,442,851 tonnes of wood pellets. 

While DP World-Prince Rupert’s Fairview Container Terminal’s volume declined slightly to 1,054,836 TEUs handled through the year.

The declines were attributed to three areas of note from 2021, with supply chain disruptions along with an increasingly competitive West coast market.

Also of note locally,  both  Ridley Terminals and Prince Rupert Grain realized significant drops in volume last year.

Ridley Terminals Inc. saw a sharp decline due to the loss of a core coal customer. RTI’s 2021 volume decrease is a significant concern, but PRPA is committed to continuing to work with them to seek efficiencies and diversification opportunities as the energy and steel market continues a transition driven by climate-related policy. 

Prince Rupert Grain experienced decreased shipments due to a poor crop year in the Canadian agricultural sector. Cruise passenger volumes were null with the cancellation of a second summer cruise season due to the pandemic. PRPA continues to work closely with the cruise industry and local stakeholders to ensure Prince Rupert and surrounding communities are ready to provide world-class offerings once again with the expected resumption of international cruise travel this summer.

As part of their review of 2021, the Port made note of some of the positive elements that the PRPA has to offer the shipping industry as it continues to build on its footprint for global trade.

This past year, Prince Rupert leveraged its natural advantages to secure its competitive position with new service calls in its intermodal business through the introduction of an express COSCO pendulum shipping service between DP World-Prince Rupert’s Fairview Container Terminal and Asia, as well as a new trans-Pacific service offered by MSC. 

Through a partnership between COSCO, DP World-Prince Rupert and CN, two new expedited rail services between Prince Rupert and Chicago, and Prince Rupert and Toronto, now offer an unparalleled means to transport cargo at record pace – a proposition that is all the more desirable as congestion and delays continue at other ports. 

The Port Authority also highlights five developments in the last year that will serve port operations into 2022, with the container operations among the key elements moving forward, along with welcome news when it comes to the Dedicated roadway between Fairview Terminal and Ridley Island which will reduce the flow of truck traffic in Prince Rupert by the summer of 2022.

Pembina’s Prince Rupert LPG Terminal was commissioned in Q1 and an inaugural shipment of liquified petroleum gas left the Watson Island terminal in April 2021. 

DP World-Prince Rupert’s Fairview Container Terminal Expansion Project began construction in Q1 2021 and saw the expansion of the container yard with major infill work at the south end of the terminal footprint, as well as the arrival and commissioning of an eighth quay crane capable of servicing the largest vessels afloat today. The Project will bring new capacity on line by July 2022, and eventually bring the terminal’s overall capacity up to 1.8 million TEUs by the end of 2023. 

The Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor, including intermodal rail siding expansion and a haul road that will enable container truck traffic to be rerouted away from public roads with a corresponding 75% decrease in distance and air emissions, substantially completed construction in 2021 and is ready for commissioning in July 2022. 

In October 2021, Wolverine Terminals Inc. announced the start of construction on its Marine Fuel Terminal, providing new marine fuel distribution services at the Port. 

The Ridley Island Export Logistics Project, a project that will support large-scale export transloading, maximizing value to Canadian exporters, the South Kaien Island Logistics Project, an import logistics park with transloading and warehousing capabilities, and Vopak Pacific Canada, a new liquid bulk storage facility and marine berth, are all expected to make final investment decisions early in 2022.

The PRPA President and CEO also noted of elements of a perfect storm of sorts in British Columbia when it comes to the last year which had impacts globally and on the North Coast.

“Given the year that we’ve all experienced in the province of BC with the impacts of extreme weather events, supply chain congestion, and economic uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, 2021 served to underscore the necessity for additional investment and diversification in the Prince Rupert Gateway to offset trade pattern volatility and shore up the economy against any future supply chain disruptions on North America’s West Coast. 

We continue to advance the development of critical infrastructure and expansion projects at the Port of Prince Rupert to best support the resilience, diversification and growth of Canadian trade and supply routes. 

By expanding, we hope to continue be a key economic driver in Northern BC for the benefit of all and will be better positioned to offer Canadian industries supply chain security as the global economy rebounds from the effects of the pandemic.”

A review of the Cargo volumes for all of the terminals of the Prince Rupert Gateway can be explored further through the PRPA website.

More notes of interest on Port operations can be reviewed from our archive page.

An archive of the various terminals that call Prince Rupert home can be explored here.

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