The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) said it has set another record for annual cargo volumes despite the unprecedented challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
It said 32.4 million tonnes of cargo moved through the Port of Prince Rupert in 2020, 9% more than its performance in 2019.
“In a year marred by uncertainty, the Port of Prince Rupert has facilitated increased trade in support of Canada’s economic health through the pandemic enabling over US$50 billion in international trade,” said Shaun Stevenson, president and CEO, Prince Rupert Port Authority.
He noted that the performance was driven by the "diversification of our cargoes," and efforts to maintain a safe working environment through the pandemic.
“Weathering the storms triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, our Port has handily proven its resiliency, efficiency, and reliability as a key strategic trade gateway for Canada,” Stevenson added.
Coal, propane, wood drives cargo growth
The Port’s highest total volume to date was led by a rise in exports of coal, propane, and wood pellets, the gateway at the northern British Columbia said in a statement.
Ridley Terminal saw a year-over-year increase of 26%, driven by demand for thermal coal. AltaGas’ Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal marked its first full year of operation in May 2020 and ended the year with 1,159,207 tonnes loaded onto 27 vessels bound for Asia, while Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s Westview Terminal also had a record year, exporting 1,474,301 tonnes of wood pellets, an increase of 33% over 2019.
“Factory shutdowns in Asia and locked down economies in North America caused a 19% drop in container traffic in the second quarter. However, volumes rebounded and DP World’s Fairview Container Terminal finished a mere 6% down with 1,141,390 TEUs moving through the Port for the year, attributed mostly to a decline in the volume of empty containers being shipped through Prince Rupert back to Asia,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the PRPA said the obstacles presented by the pandemic have not hindered progress on several key projects aimed at sustainably growing and diversifying the Port complex — including the Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor, and the southern expansion of the Fairview Container Terminal that will support a future capacity of 1.8 million TEUs.
The Port is also looking forward to the Vopak Pacific Canada decision on a new liquid bulk storage facility and marine berth on Ridley Island later this year.
“We continue to advance the development of critical infrastructure and expansion projects that support the resilience of the gateway operations, and the growth and diversification of cargo handling capabilities and capacities at the Port Prince Rupert,” said Stevenson.
“By expanding trade enabling infrastructure, we will not only support our local economy, but will be poised to offer Canadian industries a competitive edge as the global economy rebounds from the effects of the pandemic.”