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Canola growth leads increased cargo at Vancouver port

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Product movement through the Port of Vancouver has seen increased growth in the first half of 20...

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Product movement through the Port of Vancouver has seen increased growth in the first half of 2006 as compared to last year, with canola making the largest leap.

The impact of rising biodiesel and ethanol demand on global oilseed markets has resulted in a sharp 93% rise in exports of canola through the port to 2.3 million tonnes. Poor growing conditions elsewhere also led to higher demand for Canadian wheat and specialty crops leading to an overall 28% growth in the grain category at 5.5 million tonnes.

Mid-year stats for cargo through the Port of Vancouver show significant increases in forest product exports, container, canola and inbound steel volumes; while coal and potash exports are down.

Lumber and wood pulp were up from the same time last year by 12.7% and 12.2% respectively. This is attributed to increases in wood production from Pine Beetle infested areas, as well as a strengthening Japanese economy.

“The turnaround in the Japanese economy represents additional opportunities for Canadian exports,” said Chris Badger, vice-president, customer development and operations, with the Vancouver Port Authority.

The port’s container volumes reached 1,035,189 TEUs, up from 853,238 during the same period in 2005. Port officials attributed the increase to a redirection of cargo to the Port of Vancouver from the Fraser River.

“With the busiest season still ahead of us, we expect to easily pass the two million TEU mark by the end of the year,” predicts Badger.

Inbound breakbulk steel imports are also up 17% due to continued strong demand from the construction and oil and gas industries in Western Canada.

After paying high commodity prices last year, coal and potash buyers have been delaying their 2006 purchases to work down their inventories and take a tougher stance in their contract negotiations. This and other market factors resulted in potash falling sharply, down 60% to 1.3 million tonnes, compared to the record first half volumes seen in 2005.

Coal volumes are at 11.6 million tonnes, down by 10%, potentially due to reported production concerns.

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