Canadian Pacific Northwest Ports

Port Metro Vancouver - Deltaport Following completion of truck route 17 serving Canada’s Asia Pacific Corridor, from the Trans Canada Highway to Deltaport and the completion of a third berth at Deltaport, work has been launched for a new rail yard at the terminal. The project will combine the existing two sets of four rail tracks into one set of eight tracks, reconfigure internal vehicle circulation and parking within the terminal and replace the seven existing 10 to 20 year-old manually-operated container cranes in the rail intermodal yard with eight modern wide-span container cranes.

When completed the project will enable greater efficiencies, giving the terminal the capacity to handle a maximum throughput of 2.4 million TEUs per year within the existing terminal footprint. Plans for a second terminal, equal in size to Deltaport (Canada’s largest), have already been submitted to Ottawa for approval.

Centerm - Upgrade

Centerm, operated by DP World, underwent a U.S.$160 million upgrade in 2006 that converted operations to RTG and provided a significant increase to capacity. Now the Port Metro Vancouver Inner Harbour facility is planning a $320-million expansion that will increase capacity by 66% – from 900,000 TEUs to 1.5 million TEUs. The terminal’s footprint will grow seven acres westward, through a larger wharf structure and earth fill enclosed by rock dykes, to create a larger and reconfigured container yard and intermodal yard.

The recent decision to consolidate all of Port Metro’s cruise operations at Canada Place will allow for the reconfiguration of the Ballantyne Pier area on the eastern end of Centerm. The pier will be rehabilitated with rock dykes and earth fill and repurposed for additional container storage, parking, and a new administrative building.

Other improvements in the plans will improve the associated infrastructure that supports the container terminal’s operations, including an expansion of the rail yard with the construction of a fifth rail track, an additional quay crane, modernized truck gate systems, an extension of Waterfront Road, and a new overpass.

According to Port Metro, with container trade volumes growing by between four to five percent annually, the project is necessary to meet the anticipated continued growth. Port Metro Vancouver is, of course, Canada’s largest port and handles much of the nation’s trade volumes.

“We handle about one in every $5.00 of Canada’s trade in goods, either imports or exports moving through the port,” Cliff Stewart, the vice president of infrastructure at Port Metro Vancouver, said. “And this trade is increasing. Between the end of the last decade and the middle of this decade, we went from about 100 to 140 million tonnes. By the early part of the next decade, we will be up by as much as another 40 million tonnes.”

North Shore Terminal – Plans for Grain Terminal

Plans for a new grain terminal on Vancouver’s North Shore have been submitted for environmental approval and are awaiting a decision. The facility is to be built by Bunge and SALIC Canada Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company. The new terminal will be equipped with loop tracks that will anchor a new grain-handling network throughout Western Canada. Karl Gerrand, CEO for the company told AJOT the loop-to-loop system will be capable of loading 134 rail cars on the Prairie in less than 10 hours, get them to port and then unloaded in less than six hours before sending the cars back to the Prairies for another load.

Port Moody - Potash

Port Moody-based Pacific Coast Terminals is expanding its facilities to handle potash to be produced by K+S Potash Canada’s new Cdn $40 billion solution mine in Saskatchewan, expected to start up this year and hit full capacity of 2.86 million tonnes annually.

Included in the project are a new railcar unloading station and conveyors to unload potash railcars, a new storage warehouse, dredging of the Port Moody Arm shipping channel and new equipment for unloading a second product, canola oil, that includes three additional storage tanks.

Port of Prince Rupert Last year saw a 26% increase in container volumes with 776,412 TEUS being moved and increases in grain and wood pellet traffic that helped compensate for a drop in coal traffic through the Ridley Island coal handling terminal.

Container traffic through the Port of Prince Rupert hit an all-time high in 2015 and the Phase II expansion project at Fairview Terminal was launched that will add 500,000 TEUs of capacity to the port.

“Since the acquisition, by DP World, of Fairview the productivity and efficiency generated by the terminal continues to be very strong,” said Maksim Mihic, General Manager, DP World (Canada) Inc.

With the opening of its Ridley Island Project Cargo Facility the port was also able to attract the international project cargo and heavy-lift shipping operator AAL to the port.

US Pacific Northwest Ports

Seattle/Tacoma – Larger Ships Since merging into one major port in the Pacific Northwest, the cities of Seattle and Tacoma managed to sail through last year’s labour disruptions on the West Coast without a major downturn in container volumes while presenting a new, larger and more dynamic image to both North America’s shipping community and customers worldwide.

In addition, the Alliance was able to welcome the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin at Terminal 18; the largest cargo ship to have yet called in the U.S.

While the megaship with a capacity of 18,000 TEUs only unloaded roughly 3,000 containers, according to Tara Matthia, port spokesperson, the arrival, unloading and departure of the 1,310 foot-long, 177 foot-wide vessel went smoothly.

Buoyed by this success, the Pacific Northwest Alliance continues to prepare for the shift to megaships that is seen by the industry worldwide as the path to more efficient, lower cost and more productive global transportation.

The port has a 10-year strategic plan in place that will eventually enable the port to handle two megaships at a time.

One of those terminals, Terminal 5 is now going through the environmental approval process and the second, Husky Terminal has had one pier realigned to handle heavier cranes and will soon be realigned and new cranes ordered.

According to Matthia, while the Alliance is spending considerable time preparing for the larger ships, it is also working on expanding its ability to handle break bulk cargo and becoming a significant competitor for that business.

Vancouver (USA) – Successful Year

In 2013 the port entered into a lease with Tesoro Corporation and the logistics firm Savage Industries interested in building the largest oil-by-rail unloading terminal in the U.S. The future terminal attracted opposition and the proposal now faces an August 1, 2016 deadline when both parties must decide whether or not to proceed with the plan.

If plans for the terminal go ahead, it will set the stage for the transportation by rail of roughly 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Montana and North Dakota’s Bakken oilfields, travelling along the Columbia River Gorge to the port for shipment to West Coast refineries.

However, to put it mildly, world markets for crude oil have been in turmoil. On one hand, an oversupply of oil by OPEC together with oil from fracking sites in the U.S. and Canada has filled oil drums to the brim, driving down the price and making oil-by-rail supplies less profitable.

On the other hand, the lifting of U.S. legislation at year-end prohibiting the export of crude to foreign buyers has opened the door to a huge, international market that many companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp are quickly taking advantage of.

Looking down the road, a terminal capable of handling over 300,000 barrels of oil daily could prove to be an extremely successful venture – or not.

Overall last year proved to be a very successful year for the port with total tonnage handled increasing by 5.4%. These increases included: pulp exports increasing 1,367.6%, bentonite clay exports up 47.5%, steel imports a 30.6% increase, wheat, soybeans and corn exports 6.4%

In addition, Subaru of America Inc. imports increased a healthy 10.4% over 2014.

Port of Everett – Development for future

For the Port of Everett, the main news is about realigning the port’s various property interests for future development.

The port is known for its proximity to Boeing and the ability for the facilities to accommodate all the oversized aerospace parts for the 747, 767, 777 and other aircraft. The parts generally are shipped from Japan to the port. Building a larger footprint for the port is critical to keeping the business and acquiring new clients.

In 2016, the port’s capital budget is $45.9 million including $18.5 million in seaport projects – such as harbor dredging, rail infrastructure, cargo equipment and planning for 1,000+ foot berths. The port estimates that $280 million is needed to prepare for larger ships.

And the time is now. In August 2015, the port handled the Westwood Robson, a 686-foot container ship transporting aerospace parts and other general cargoes from Japan to Everett. The vessel could only be serviced at the port’s Pier 1, because its bow could extend into the waterway – 36 feet beyond the end of the pier. Typically, these aerospace shipments are handled at Pacific Terminal, but its current berth length is only 640-feet.

In May 2015, the port completed Phase 1 of its South Terminal strengthening project, which included construction of a 140 foot by 110 foot ‘heavylift pad’ rated at 1,000 psf. The pad allows for heavy cargo operations on the north portion of the dock. Work on phase 2 of the strengthening project is currently underway.

The Port of Everett wants to remove contaminated sediment in Port Gardner to pave the way for the expansion of Pacific Terminal. The state Department of Ecology has to approve the project, which the port expects to cost $10 million. The port would like to, at the latest, have the dredging finished by 2017. The work is one of the first steps in the Port of Everett’s $313 million plan to extend berths. Port officials plan to add 50-feet to Pacific Terminal, making it 690 feet long, and make South Terminal 1,000 feet long.

Another move that the port deems critical is the purchase of former Kimberly-Clark mill site. Before Pacific Terminal can be expanded, polluted sediment has to be dredged. Weyerhaeuser operated a mill there until 1980. The port bought the land three years later. The cleanup plan has to be amended to include extending Pacific Terminal.

In another recent development the Everett City Council voted to award Marshbank Construction the contract for a project that will improve traffic flow for trucks and other vehicles traveling between Interstate 5 and the Port of Everett. The city’s 41st Street freight project is a critical first/last mile connector to increase access and improve freight mobility of key import/export cargoes from Interstate 5 to the Port of Everett.

Port of Olympia – Mooing Forward

Over the last fifteen months the Port of Olympia has been hurt by the drop in oil prices and subsequent need for imports of fracking sands, destined for the oil fields of North Dakota. The loss of revenue was significant for the port. Diversification of freight for this predominately non-containerized cargo port (log shipments outbound are the main freight) has become the new mission statement and last November the port made an important step mooing forward.

In perhaps one of the entire Pacific Coast’s most unusual moves, the Port of Olympia shipped 1,427 dairy cows on the specialized carrier, Falconia, for Vietnam. Of the 1,427 dairy cows originally from California, remarkably 1,426 cows completed the trip to Vietnam - one cow broke its leg and had to be euthanized.

Corral Line, the Danish shipowner which owns the Falconia, has the vessel equipped with a desalination machine to produce water for cows and powerful ventilators that recirculate the air every hour. The cows are held in pens on each deck of the ship and have been provided the space required by the USDA.

Also notable was the importance of buying a second hand crane in 2015. The port paid $3.2 million for the 2005 Gottwald, delivered to the port from Antwerp, Belgium in March 2015.

The crane has a 124-foot tower and a 173-foot boom and can lift 140 metric tons, which has opened up new cargo opportunities.

It pays to have the right equipment as this year a one-time corn shipment came to the port. The 5,000 metric tons of corn (in bulk) came from Turkey aboard the vessel Ozge Aksoy.

The corn was destined for farms in Washington state and British Columbia, where it was to be used for animal feed. The importer was Sunrise Foods International of Saskatchewan, Canada. The last time the port imported an agricultural product was cottonseed in 2001.

Port of Longview On again-off again negotiations with Waterside Energy LLC have been broken off by the Port of Longview. In a statement Commission President Bob Bagaason said, “This decision is based on the proponent’s failure to demonstrate the WEST project’s financial wherewithal, plain and simple. In this instance, the proponent missed the deadline to supply financial information and the information provided post-deadline was heavily redacted and failed to communicate financial support of the project.”

“This isn’t about fossil fuels, I want to make that clear,” said Commissioner Doug Averett. “The Port of Longview is open for business and all project proposals will be evaluated on their individual merits, not the commodity.”

Grays Harbor - Projects

Three different companies had plans to build oil storage facilities in the Grays Harbor area last year, however the number has now dropped to one with the U.S. Development Group terminating its lease option and the Renewable Energy Group cancelling its plans for an oil storage project.

However, a proposal by Westway Terminals remains in place and the company is expecting a final environmental decision this September.

If it goes ahead, the project will see five storage tanks for crude oil installed, each with a capacity of eight million gallons.

Port of Portland, Oregon

Business is down at the Port of Portland since Hanjin Shipping announced it was pulling out of the port last February, leaving the port with primarily truck or rail through Seattle to handle traffic.

The shipping line handled almost 80% of the containers through Terminal 6 that moved primarily containerized agricultural products and apparel manufactured by companies in the Pacific Northwest such as Columbia Sportswear and Nike.

According to reports, trucking firms that are left behind to handle the port’s container business have been deluged by phone calls and the number of trucks available to deliver shipments to Seattle/Tacoma is in short supply.

Trips to Puget Sound shipping terminals can be four times as costly and take three times as long as a trip to the Port of Portland.