AltaGas Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal. Exports from the facility have increased the overall performance of the port, contributing to a 68 per cent growth since May 2019, PRPA said on June 9, 2020. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Port’s performance remains strong during COVID-19

Prince Rupert cargo volume is up 9 per cent

Increased cargo volumes in May prove the resiliency of the Prince Rupert Port during the COVID-19 pandemic, and illustrate that the diverse port complex strong performance is critical, Prince Rupert Port Authority said.

The port’s cargo volume is up 9 per cent with 12,615,661 tonnes of cargo handled so far this year. This increase has been lead by strong dry bulk volumes for the year to date.

Export volume through Ridley Terminals is up 68 per cent from May 2019 and up 39 per cent for the year to date. The AltaGas Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal that opened last year and wood pellets being shipped through the Westview Terminal have both contributed to the the steady operations of the port, PRPA said.

“The intermodal sector has been the most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, with a decrease in the movement of cargo on the entire trans-Pacific trade route. Volume at Fairview Terminal reveals a 12 per cent decline year-to-date, though laden volumes have only decreased 6 per cent,” PRPA indicated in a release on June 9 citing export volumes so far this year.

READ MORE: New deal between Ridley Terminals and Teck Resources will increase coal exports

PRPA president and CEO Shaun Stevenson said the port’s traffic statistics speak to the diversity of the volume and products that are exported.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created global economic uncertainty, and through this challenging situation, the Prince Rupert gateway has not only remained fluid, but year-to-date volumes are above last year’s. This reinforces why the Prince Rupert Port Authority and our partners are working to diversify the Port of Prince Rupert and further increase our resiliency as a gateway,” Stevenson said.

“There is nearly $1 billion in capital expansion either underway or planned to advance over the upcoming year in the growth and expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert.”

“This not only represents a significant economic impact and stimulus through the construction phase but expands and diversifies Canada’s capacity to support export industries and grow international trade,” Stevenson added.

While the Prince Rupert Port may be experiencing growth, the provincial government’s BC Statistics agency reports that for the first four months of 2020, B.C. origin exports were down 14.8 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier. The cause of the decline was cited as a combination of rail blockades and the global Coronavirus pandemic.

BC Statics reported the value of B.C.’s commodity exports fell 12.9 per cent in April, driven largely by a 25.9 per cent slump in shipments of energy products, but significant reductions in exports of other goods categories also contributed to the overall decline, particularly industrial machinery, equipment and parts (-31.1 per cent) and forestry products and building and packaging materials (-5.9 percent).

“With over $50 billion in cargo being handled at the Port of Prince Rupert each year, generating $1.5 billion in economic activity in northern British Columbia, the Port of Prince Rupert is also ensuring that critical Canadian industries like forestry, mining, agriculture and natural gas can successfully work through these unprecedented challenges. Maintaining Canada’s export base during this period will be important to the economic recovery in the months and years to come,” the PRPA statement said.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert Port Authority predicting record breaking years for the decade

K-J Millar | Journalist
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