Canadian West Coast ports at capacity, according to conference panel
The ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert are already at capacity with Asian imports destined for US and Canadian markets, and say they will be in no position to handle any cargo diverted from the US West Coast in the event of disruptions linked to ongoing longshore contract negotiations.
Speakers at JOC’s Canada Trade and Shipping Outlook conference, held May 12, and attended by CIFFA, included Cliff Stewart, vice president of infrastructure at the Port of Vancouver, Jonathan Wahba, vice president/commercial integration at Canadian Pacific, Maksim Mihic, CEO and general manager at DP World.
CIFFA Director Christina Fisker also spoke on the panel at JOC, with a focus on customs compliance.
Vancouver, Canada’s largest port, and Prince Rupert, 500 miles to the north, have intermodal rail service throughout Canada and to the US Midwest via Chicago. Devastating fires in British Columbia last summer, followed by rains and flooding in the fall and sub-freezing temperatures this winter, crippled the rail infrastructure in the province, and the ports have yet to fully recover from freight disruption that resulted.
As cargo volumes build toward the summer-fall peak season, the Canadian railroads will need all the rail capacity they have to handle what is scheduled to enter the country, and there is little surpus rail capacity.
DP World, which operates the Centerm container terminal in Vancouver and Prince Rupert’s Fairview terminal, is scheduled this year to complete expansion projects that will add 600,000 TEU of annual capacity at Centerm and 250,000 to 300,000 TEU of capacity in Prince Rupert, said Maksim Mihic, CEO and general manager at DP World.
But if US West Coast ports experience any disruptions after the coastwide contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association expires on July 1 and importers seek a relief valve at the Canadian ports, “There is no capacity for that spillover,” Mihic said.
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