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Ports of Halifax, Prince Rupert to benefit from mega-vessels

TORONTO, Ont. - Deep water ports in Halifax and Prince Rupert stand to gain the most from a shift in shipping trends from Asia, Tom Escott, president of Schneider Logistics, told delegates at the Onta...


TORONTO, Ont. – Deep water ports in Halifax and Prince Rupert stand to gain the most from a shift in shipping trends from Asia, Tom Escott, president of Schneider Logistics, told delegates at the Ontario Trucking Association’s annual convention.

Escott pointed out North American ports will see a 187% increase in trade by 2020 with a 350% surge in containerized cargo.

As shippers in Asia begin utilizing larger cargo ships to get their goods to the North American marketplace, Escott said they’ll have to rely on either Prince Rupert or Halifax to accommodate the larger vessels.

“The problem is, there are only a few ports in North America that have the depth to handle the fully-laden ships,” Escott said of the new 12,000 TEU vessels that are now being used by Asian shippers. The Port of Los Angeles is capable of handling the massive cargo ships, but since the longshoremen’s strike of 2002, most importers have developed a multi-port strategy, Escott pointed out.

“In 2002, there were 80 to 100 ships lined up for 20 miles out in the ocean waiting to get unloaded,” he recalled. “As a result of that, many major importers said ‘Never again am I going to get caught with all my freight going into LA.'”

The Halifax and Prince Rupert ports have good rail connections and distance is not an issue with either port.

Despite a slowing US economy, Escott said imports will continue to grow.

“There’s one market that seems to be impervious to what the economy is doing and that’s the import market,” he said.

Port authority digs deeper

Meanwhile the Halifax Port Authority plans to deepen the Pier C berths of its Southend Container Terminal facility, operated by Halterm, from a current depth of 15 metres to a new depth of 16 metres, according to reports.

The dredging will allow safer clearance for the keels of fully-laden, post-Panamax vessels with a capacity of 8,000 TEUs or more.

“Shipping lines are looking to the Port of Halifax because of our available capacity and this further investment in our infrastructure will allow us to handle their business,” said George Malec, vice-president, operations and security.

The dredging work, scheduled to begin in mid-November, will be completed within three months at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.


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