Port Metro Vancouver announces record year amidst coal concerns

 25 Feb 2014     Cargo Volumes and Throughput, Container Handling, Containers, Environment

Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) has announced an exceptional year-end result, handling 135 million tonnes of cargo last year, a nine percent increase to that of 2012.

The record amount of cargo rose nine percent above 123.9 million tonnes of cargo processed in 2012.

Import and export tonnage maintained a balanced growth in Canada’s largest port, both showing a nine percent increase.

Much of this can be linked to Canada’s increasing relations with China, whose trade accounted for 32 million tonnes of imported and exported cargo last year. This 37 percent increase in trade over the past two years cements Chinas role as the largest trading partner with Canada at PMV.

Second to this was Japan, who traded 16 million tonnes – a nine percent increase over the past two years. Whilst trade between Canada and their third highest partner, South Korea, decreased by two percent over the past two years, they still managed 15 million tonnes.

There was also an influx of tourism with a 22 percent increase in cruise passenger numbers, with a 23 percent increase in vessels – 812,398 passengers across the ports 235 calls.

Cargo volume from containers rose another four percent with 2.83 million TEU passing through PMV in 2013.

This is expected to continue throughout 2014, helped not only by a rebounding US economy but Canada’s plans to form a Trans Pacific Partnership. Whilst the talks with the US have included trade partners Japan and have garnered interest from South Korea, China is yet to show an interest in joining the negotiations.

Bulk Cargo volumes rose 11 percent, with coal exports jumping 17 percent. This increase in coal trade comes even before the approval of a controversial project by one of the PMVs tenants, Fraser Surrey Docks LP (FSD).

The application, which would permit FSD to handle up to four million tonnes of US thermal coal mined from the Wyoming Powder River basin, was sent back for review for a second time last week amidst public outcry and health concerns.

PMV already handles 38.2 million tonnes of coal annually, making up 35 percent of all trade at the port.

Chief executive officer Robin Silvester stated that the ports job is to ensure that goods are transported safely, hence the reasoning behind delaying the project a second time.

While speaking to The Globe and Mail; he noted the opportunity to expand further in the coal industry even without considering US thermal coal:
“If you look at the long term, British Columbia has very strong and good-quality, steel-making coal reserves that the world is going to need for a long, long time. Whatever your views on thermal coal and its place in climate change, there is no substitute for steel-making coal for making steel.”

Kevin Washbrook, who directs Voters Taking Action on Climate Change who are actively working against the import of US thermal coal have stated that they were not pressing to halt plans for increased shipping of steel-making coal, but reinstated that comprehensive health assessments should be made before the project in FSD take place.

Despite this ongoing issue, PMV made massive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 by partaking in the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy.

This collaboration with the Ports of Seattle seaport and Tacoma, Washington, aims to reduce particulate emissions by 75 percent per tonne of cargo by 2015 and 80 percent by 2020.

Further more, the EcoAction program that has been put in place has promoted emission reduction measures that exceed the current North American Emission Control Area Requirements.

Vessels qualify for one of three reduced harbour rates based on one of the emission reduction options within a given category.

2013 saw 549 ships apply to the EcoAction programme, with 243 attaining gold status, 200 calls for silver, and 106 calls for bronze.

A total of US$1.158 million in discounts were handed out to vessels going beyond requirements to reduce emissions via the programme and Sir Richard Branson and the Carbon War room recently endorsed the initiative and the ports attempts to benefit the environment.
 

For more information on Port Metro Vancouver click here.