Another record has been set with annual cargo volumes for 2020 nine per cent more than in 2019, and progress on several key projects aimed at sustainability continue to grow and diversify the port complex, the Prince Rupert Port Authority announced in a Jan. 18 statement.
In a year marred by uncertainty, more than $50 billion in increased international trade has been facilitated through Prince Rupert, Shaun Stevenson, president and CEO of Prince Rupert Port Authority, said.
Despite unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic, 32.4 million tonnes of cargo moved through the Port of Prince Rupert in the past year. Essential port operations provided important economic stability for the Prince Rupert region in 2020.
“We continue to advance the development of critical infrastructure and expansion projects that support the resilience of the gateway operations, and the growth and diversification of cargo handling capabilities and capacities at the Port of Prince Rupert,” Stevenson said. “By expanding trade enabling infrastructure, we will not only support our local economy but will be poised to offer Canadian industries a competitive edge as the global economy rebounds from the effects of the pandemic.”
Port operations provided the foundation for $1.5 billion of economic activity, over 6,200 direct and indirect jobs related to moving trade through the northern B.C. corridor, and contributed nearly $12 million to local municipal government tax revenue, the statement said.
“The Port’s highest total volume to date was led by a rise in exports of coal, propane, and wood pellets. Ridley Terminal saw a year-over-year increase of 26 per cent, driven by demand for thermal coal.
AltaGas’ Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal marked its first full year of operation in May 2020 and ended the year with 1,159,207 tonnes loaded onto 27 vessels bound for Asia.
Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s Westview Terminal had a record year, exporting 1,474,301 tonnes of wood pellets, an increase of 33 per cent over 2019.
Factory shutdowns in Asia and locked down economies in North America caused a 19 per cent drop in container traffic in the second quarter. However, volumes rebounded and DP World’s Fairview Container Terminal finished six per cent down with 1,141,390 TEUs (20 ft equivalent container) moving through the port for the year, attributed mostly to a decline in the volume of empty containers being shipped through Prince Rupert back to Asia.”
The cancellation of the summer cruise season saw passenger volumes drop significantly and BC Ferries experienced a steep decline in ridership.
“The Prince Rupert Port Authority continues to work closely with the cruise industry and local stakeholders to determine the best way to welcome back passengers when Transport Canada allows international travel and removes the no sail order, which restricts cruise vessels from calling on Canadian ports,” PRPA said in the media release.
Progress on several key projects aimed at sustainably growing and diversifying the Port complex have continued despite the pandemic obstacles, PRPA said.
“Construction crews are nearing completion of the Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor, a five-kilometre private haul road that will reroute container trucks away from city streets and significantly reduce truck emissions. DP World gained regulatory approval for the southern expansion of Fairview Container Terminal that will support a future capacity of 1.8 million TEUs; Vopak Pacific Canada is expected to make a final investment decision on a new liquid bulk storage facility and marine berth on Ridley Island later this year; and the environmental assessment process began for the proposed Ridley Island Export Logistics Platform, a project that will support large-scale export transloading, maximizing value to Canadian exporters,” PRPA said in the announcement.
“Thanks to the diversification of our cargoes, and the commitment and determination to maintain a safe working environment through the pandemic by our Port partners and the men and women working in the gateway industry in northern British Columbia, the Port of Prince Rupert’s operations have remained resilient,” Stevenson said.
“Weathering the storms triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, our port has handily proven its resiliency, efficiency, and reliability as a key strategic trade gateway for Canada.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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