PACIFIC NORTHWEST PORTS - Business grows at PNW ports

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By Leo Quigley, AJOTPort of Prince RupertOnce the orphan of the Canadian port system, the northern British Columbia port of Prince Rupert has suddenly become the industry’s poster child. Barry Bartlett, spokesman for the port, told AJOT that construction of the port’s first container terminal is proceeding “on time and on budget.” Decking on the wharf extension is now about 80% complete and asphalt is being laid throughout the terminal area. In addition, business at the port has increased dramatically, especially at Ridley Terminal. Arrangements have been made for the bulk handling terminal to move coal from the recently opened Brule Mine near Chetwynd, BC. The mine is expected to produce up to 2.0 million tons of ultra low volatile pulverized coal (ULV-PCI) annually. The coal has been sold to steel mills in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Europe. In addition, Houston Pellet Ltd. is building a wood pellet receiving and storage facility on Ridley Island that will be used to export pellets, made from pine trees that have been killed by Mountain Pine Beetles, primarily to European customers. This surge in business brought with it a 75% increase in 2006 throughput compared to the previous year. Port chairman Dale MacLean said, “2006 was a turning point for the Port of Prince Rupert in its aggressive transformation from a regional port to a competitive participant in the global economy.”
Port of VancouverLate last year the Canadian Government gave final approval for the construction of a third berth at the port’s largest container terminal, Deltaport. This, together with a second terminal as large as Deltaport, are key elements in Vancouver Port Authority (VPA) plans to boost its container handling capacity. The third berth will cost an estimated C$300 million and will increase the port’s box handling capacity from 900,000 teus to 1.3 million teus. With severe winter weather early this year, accompanied by avalanches, derailments and the inability to operate long trains because of freezing temperatures, the port found itself confronted with a backlog of roughly 7,000 containers at Deltaport and Vanterm. The VPA, working with other stakeholders at the port, created an action group to deal with the problem. However a strike by railway conductors and yard workers at Canadian National Railway forced an additional slowdown in the railway’s ability to move containers. Chris Badger, President of Operations, says the delays served to compound the problem. Nevertheless, in 2006, the port was able to increase trade by four percent to 79.3 million tons. Most significant was a sharp increase in canola exports. Container traffic also increased, hitting a record 2.2 million teus.
Port of SeattleLast year the port experienced record grain handling volumes at 5.9 million tons and the second largest handling of containers ever at 1,987,360 teus. Also, the port made a major land deal with King County that will see the exchange of a rail corridor belonging to the port for Boeing Field. The exchange opens the door to a possible intermodal rail facility and badly needed improvements to the rail route through Stampede Pass that would see tunnels increased in size to handle double stack container trains. When the deal was announced Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire said, “This is an innovate solution that reflects the goals behind our container ports initiative – it anticipates future demands on our transportation system and will help to efficiently move our high quality Washington agricultural products to the global market.” Port directors have decided to proceed with the construction of a new container terminal at Terminal 30, which was formerly used as a cruise facility. The decision will add 32 acres to Terminal 25 and Terminal 28, creating a 70-acre container handling complex. Last year also saw the approval of a 30-year lease with SSA Terminals to operate Terminal 18 on Harbor Island and a new, combined Terminal 25-30 in the Duwamish waterway.
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American Journal of Transportation