Calgary: Canada’s premier inland port

By Mark Cardwell

When it comes to inland ports in Western Canada, Calgary is in a league of its own.

Located 1,000 kilometres from Vancouver and 1,500 kms from Prince Rupert, Calgary is the premier inland intermodal terminal for both British Columbian sea ports. It is also Canada’s primary hub for big-box retail and consumer packaged goods west of Toronto.

Continue reading

With forest product transload facilities, Port of Prince Rupert a critical element of the supply chain

By R. Bruce Striegler

“Historically, the port of Prince Rupert has had two forest-based stuffing and reload operations in Prince Rupert,” the Port’s Brian Friesen, Manager, Trade Development, explains. “Both Tidal Transport and Quickload Logistics served regional mills – mills along the Highway 16 corridor – but in close enough proximity to Prince Rupert, that it made sense to truck forest products to Prince Rupert, stuff them into containers and then truck them to the terminal.” Beginning in 2007, CN Rail began operating a forest-products transload facility, 720 kilometres to the west, in the City of Prince George, and Friesen notes that a significant volume of forest products coming from Alberta and B.C. are stuffed there before they are shipped by rail to Prince Rupert.

Continue reading

Proposed fabrication facility would boost fortunes for Newfoundland port

By Keith Norbury

A fabrication facility to build gravity-based structures for offshore wind power proposed for the port of Corner Brook, N.L., would “definitely increase activity at the port,” the port’s business development manager, Nora Fever, said in a recent interview. While she didn’t have any details about the size and scale of the proposed facility, Ms. Fever said the port would have to expand its infrastructure to accommodate it, which “definitely has potential to create several hundred jobs for this area.”

St. John’s based Beothuk Energy has identified Corner Brook as a feasible site for such a facility, which would be built at Brake’s Cove, just east of the existing Corner Brook dock, as part of a $1 billion initiative that also includes a demonstration wind farm project for St. George’s Bay, according to recent local news reports. Kirby Mercer, Beothuk’s CEO, told the local Rotary Club this summer that the manufacturing facility would create at least 600 jobs in the Corner Brook area alone, the city’s Western Star newspaper reported at the time.

Ms. Fever confirmed that the proposed facility would build “gravity-based structures” for offshore wind turbines. Those structures would sit on the seabed to support the turbines in offshore wind farms in the waters around Newfoundland. Handling these structures, and the materials required to build them, would necessitate expansion of the port. For example, it would require infilling of Brake’s Cove, which is to the east of the existing dock. “We would use existing infrastructure to some degree but most of the project activity would be at an expanded area of the port,” Ms. Fever said. That existing infrastructure includes a fixed-pedestal crane that the port corporation obtained new in 2008. The 53-tonne capacity machine is a multi-use crane that handles containers and the occasional shipment of breakbulk or project cargo. However, such project uses have been infrequent. The most recent consisted of large pipes for penstocks at the Deer Lake power plant about 50 kilometres away.

The port also has a ro-ro ramp, 28,000 square metres of container storage or laydown area, and a large industrial building that can be leased. Corner Brook, with a metropolitan population of about 32,000, is the largest city in western Newfoundland. It is on a narrow, well-sheltered fjord with 100 metres of water in the middle of the bay and 10 metres at dockside, Ms. Fever said. The berth extends 362 metres, long enough to accommodate the Queen Mary II when it visited. Open year-round, with occasional ice-breaker services, the port is situated at the end of Humber Arm, 35 kilometres inland from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Corner Brook Port Corporation has only four employees at present. However, Ms. Fever said that would likely increase should the expansion project go ahead, although she didn’t have details about that. “It would depend on the setup of the project, who the partners are, and those kind of things. It’s very early stages for this,” Ms. Fever said.

Beothuk is part of a corporate partnership that includes Denmark’s Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. According to a posting on the latter’s website, Beothuk will lead development of the 180-megawatt St. George’s Bay project “until a power purchase agreement has been obtained.” After that, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners will lead the project to its financial close “and through the construction phase in cooperation with Beothuk Energy.’

In mid August, the provincial government said it was meeting with the project proponents “on a regular basis to discuss the potential of its wind project for Newfoundland and Labrador.” That was according to a prepared statement, attributed to Siobhan Coady, the province’s Natural Resources minister. “The project is in its early stages and we continue to discuss,” the statement added.

The mayors of Corner Brook and the nearby municipalities of Burgeo, Deer Lake, Stephenville, and Port aux Basques have also met with the joint venture proponents and port officials. The mayors issued a news release in August saying “it is essential to work with the provincial government to secure a power purchase agreement for this project to ensure the province has first-player advantage, as it is unlikely that a second fabrication facility will be constructed in Atlantic Canada,” the Western Star reported at the time.

Ms. Fever said the port is close to other potential offshore wind sites in Atlantic Canada, which she called “a big plus.” She added that the province has a lot of expertise and experience in the offshore oil and gas industry that she expects could be translated — “especially when you’re talking about gravity-based structures” — to the offshore wind sector. “And we’ve got several post secondary institutions here in Corner Brook for training and for specialized programming if necessary,” Ms. Fever said. “So certainly that positions us very well for this project.”

Glen Sullivan, co-owner of Atlantic Hydraulic and Machine Limited, attended a few information sessions on Beothuk’s proposal in recent years, and told Canadian Sailings that his company, which fabricates maritime equipment, could perform maintenance and other support work at the windmill plant. He also expects the wind facility would bring in workers from elsewhere in the province and provide spinoff benefits for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.

“We’re a very small community,” Mr. Sullivan said. “So any new work that comes into this community would have to benefit the community. There is nowhere (else) to get any service or any suppliers or anything else.” He remains optimistic that the wind project will go ahead, although he noted that it has been planned for a few years now. “So as time goes on, I’m not sure if it’s going to happen or not,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Profile: Groupe Océan’s Gordon Bain

By Mark Cardwell

When he graduated from Vancouver’s Northwest School of Deep Sea Diving in 1972 at age 21, Gordon Bain was eager to work with the skills he learned during the intensive six-month training. Trouble was, he couldn’t find work. “I applied at some places, but didn’t get a job,” recalls Bain.  “So I decided to bid on jobs myself.” Bain started a company, which he dubbed Aqua-Marine, and landed his first contract, with Hydro-Québec.

Continue reading

Atlantic Container Line celebrating 50 years on the high seas

Back in September 1967, a ship sailed into the port of New York. As stevedores looked out from the pier, they observed a new ship with a design unlike anything they had ever seen. This amazing vessel had containers stacked securely in protective cells. Vehicles, machinery and trailers had been driven on via a stern ramp and parked securely in garages under deck. With this hybrid setup, unloading and loading Atlantic Span on her maiden voyage would turn out to be a breeze. Those assigned to handle the actual cargo had a far easier task compared with the long, arduous workloads for conventional vessels.

Continue reading

Heavy haulers differ on whether Alberta bust is over

By Keith Norbury

Has a recently reported uptick in the Alberta economy resulted in more project cargo shipments across the prairie province? It depends on the company doing the hauling.

“Ultimately, we have seen an increase in the heavy haul freight — and definitely in western Canada for sure, over the past six months, eight months,” said Scott Trousdale, Vice-President and Director of Business Development with Calgary-based Totran Transportation Services Ltd. However, Kevin Hutchings, owner of Leduc-based Ryash Transport Inc., said business has remained slow. “There’s no projects,” Mr. Hutchings said.

Continue reading

Wolverine investigates marine fuelling service for Port of Prince Rupert

By R. Bruce Striegler

Prince Rupert is one of the few major ports in the world that doesn’t have a local marine fueling service for cargo ships. In early September, Wolverine Terminals UCL made public its proposed plans to construct and operate a marine fuel delivery service that would enable cargo vessels anchored or berthed to fuel locally. Designed with the latest marine fueling technology, the fuel would be supplied via rail with distribution by barge to ships. The addition of the service would remove one of the few competitive disadvantages found in Prince Rupert. Currently ships must carry enough fuel to make a round trip, or divert to an alternative Westcoast port. In addition, the weight of fuel for a round trip often displaces potential cargo, and can drive up shipping costs. Westcoast ports that provide bunkering services include Alaska’s Anchorage and Dutch Harbor, Vancouver, B.C., Washington State’s Cherry Point, and Port Angeles. Vancouver is 748 km or 404 nautical miles from Prince Rupert.

Continue reading

Port environmental activities include a wide array of protection and prevention programs

By R. Bruce Striegler

Increasingly, ports across the world are taking on the issues of environmental stewardship and looking at sustainability as key to their futures. Port of Prince Rupert became the first west coast port to join the Green Marine environmental program in 2010. Green Marine is a joint Canada-U.S. initiative aimed at advancing environmental excellence in the marine industry, throughout North America. The certification program emphasizes voluntary improvement of environmental performance in key areas identified by the marine industry which include water and land pollution prevention – cargo residues and oily waters, to control greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. The program takes into account community impacts such as noise, dust, light and odours as well as controlling aquatic invasive species. Participants evaluate their performance against guidelines and criteria provided by Green Marine; the results are published annually and verified by an independent third party.

Continue reading

CN and CP announce third quarter results

Both of Canada’s major railways announced third quarter results for the period ended September 30. Although both carriers put in admirable performances, their results appear to point to a weakening economy.

During the quarter, CN’s revenues increased by 7 per cent to $3.22 billion. Operating expenses as a percentage of revenues increased from 53.3 per cent to 54.7 per cent. Cash flow from operations declined to $1.41 billion from $1.48 billion. However, “free” cash flow, the amount remaining from operating cash flow after subtracting net investments made during the quarter and dividends paid to investors, increased to $373 million from $310 million. During the first nine months of the year, “free” cash flow increased to $1.44 billion from $923 million. From Jan 1 to Sept 30, CN spent $1.543 billion repurchasing its own shares, and paid $932 million in dividends. As of September 30, the company’s equity stood at $15.1 billion (as compared to $14.8 billion as at December 31, 2016), while total debt declined to $22.0 billion from $22.2 billion (Dec 31, 2016). During the quarter, CN’s operating ratio slipped from 53.3 per cent to 54.7 per cent.

Continue reading

Page 1 of 18212345...102030...Last »