Container volumes booming at Port of Vancouver

by Canadian Shipper

Containers hit record highs at mid-year, the Vancouver Port Authority reported yesterday.

Total containers jumped 17 per cent to 650,016 Twentyfoot Equivalent Units TEUs) shipped while the number of revenue passengers increased 4 per cent to 406,676 revenue passengers. Solid gains were also seen in potash, which climbed 14 per cent to 2.4 million tonnes while wood pulp shipments jumped 24 per cent to 2 million tonnes.

In the container sector, strong consumer demand for Asian-produced goods continued to fuel increases in imports. Total full imports increased 21 per cent to 286,305 TEUs. On the export side, total full exports increased to 292,449 TEUs, a 9 per cent increase. “The Port of Vancouver achieved a new record in June with the highest number of containers shipped in a single month with 127,176 TEUs shipped, breaking the previous record set in April this year,” said Captain Gordon Houston, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Port Authority.

For the first time, Mainland China surpassed Japan in the area of total containerized tonnage through the Port of Vancouver with 1.4 million tonnes.

“In the cruise sector, Vancouver continues to prove itself as a prime destination for cruise passengers,” said David Stowe, Chairman Vancouver Port Authority. At mid-year, the number of sailings remained the same as last year with 122 sailings, reflecting higher passenger capacity of the newer fleet of ships.

Despite growth in key areas of the Port of Vancouver, total tonnage at the port declined 13 per cent to 33.5 million tonnes. Bulk shipments decreased 17 per cent to 26.2 million tonnes.

Coal, the Port of Vancouvers largest single commodity, experienced an 18 per cent decline with 12.2 million tonnes shipped, compared with the sector’s excellent performance in 2001. Lower shipments to Asia, South America and Europe due to a global economic slowdown, difficult and protracted contract negotiations between Canadian suppliers and the Japanese steel industry, and shipments of coal over land to eastern steel mills in Canada and the U.S. all accounted for the declines through the port.

Shipments of grain decreased 29 per cent to 4 million tonnes. Poor weather conditions resulting in low crop yields accounted for the decline in volumes. Shipments of wheat were off 14 per cent compared to the same period last year with 2.6 million tonnes shipped while canola shipments were down 51 per cent to 1 million tonnes. Sulphur shipments declined 4 per cent to 2.7 million tonnes while potash climbed 14 per cent to 2.4 million tonnes.

Liquid bulk shipments saw a 3 per cent gain with 3.2 million tonnes shipped. Total chemical shipments grew 19 per cent to 1.4 million tonnes shipped. Petroleum products saw a 4 per cent increase with 1.8 million tonnes shipped.

Shipments of forest products remained at the same level as last year with 3.7 million tonnes shipped. Wood pulp shipments jumped 24 per cent to 2 million tonnes due largely to strong demand from China and low levels of pulp inventories in world markets causing buyers to replenish their reserves. Lumber shipments declined 11 per cent to 800,000 tonnes due to the struggling Japanese economy resulting in low housing starts and competition from other suppliers.

The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, trading more than $29 billion in goods with more than 90 nations. Port activities generate 62,000 jobs in total with $1.6 billion in Gross Domestic Product and $3.5 billion in economic output. Last year, 72.9 million tonnes were shipped through the Port of Vancouver.

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