The Canadian Wheat Board

The Canadian Wheat Board

November 05, 2007 12:52 ET

CWB Wheat Shipments Through Churchill Hit 30-Year High

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - Nov. 5, 2007) - The CWB has shipped 621 000 tonnes of western Canadian wheat and durum through the Port of Churchill this year - the highest volume since 1977.

"This has been one of the best years for Churchill in recent memory," CWB chair Ken Ritter said today at a news conference with OmniTRAX Inc., owners of the port and rail line. "The CWB is proud to have played an important role in its success by pushing use of Churchill to the maximum for our wheat exports."

In 1977, there were 729 183 tonnes of board grain shipped out of Churchill - mainly to the Soviet Union, which no longer imports wheat. This year, the CWB maximized its use of the port by filling 20 ships with grain bound for customers in Brazil, Italy and Africa. CWB shipments comprised 100 per cent of the grain shipped through Churchill in 2007 and 90 per cent of all traffic.

The port is almost entirely reliant on CWB grain for its viability. From 1997 to 2007, annual CWB shipments through Churchill have averaged 410 000 tonnes, representing 87 per cent of Churchill's annual grain exports.

Exporting Prairie wheat through Churchill saves farmers money on transportation in terms of rail-freight costs and avoiding St. Lawrence Seaway charges. Churchill grain exports also help ensure the ongoing success of the port, a major employer and economic driver for the northern community.

Ritter said the CWB was pleased to have participated in some unique new shipping initiatives this year.

The 2007 Churchill shipping season ended with the Oct. 26 departure of the Kapitan Sviridov, a Russian vessel which unloaded fertilizer and was reloaded with 18 000 tonnes of wheat bound for Italy. The CWB also helped make history in September by re-loading an Arctic supply ship with wheat for Halifax - the first-ever domestic grain shipment from Churchill.

Controlled by western Canadian farmers, the CWB is the largest wheat and barley marketer in the world. One of Canada's biggest exporters, the Winnipeg-based organization sells grain to over 70 countries and returns all sales revenue, less marketing costs to farmers.

High-resolution photos of loading the last ship of 2007, the Kapitan Sviridov, in Churchill are available on request.

Facts about the Port of Churchill

- As a northern port, the Churchill shipping route is ice-free from late July to early November. Transportation to the port is carried out over 1,100 kilometres of rail linking Churchill to farmers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

- Construction of the Hudson Bay Railway began in 1910. The original terminus was Port Nelson, later abandoned for Churchill. This change resulted in larger geographic challenges.

- Since 1997, OmniTRAX Inc. has owned and operated the Hudson Bay Port Corporation at Churchill and the Hudson Bay Rail Line which connects it to CN Rail line at The Pas, MB.

- The CWB is by far the largest user of the port, with board wheat comprising 100 per cent of grain shipped through Churchill this year (621 000 tonnes) and 90 per cent of all traffic.

- Over the past 10 years (1997-2007), more than four million tonnes of wheat and durum have been shipped through Churchill by the CWB. In the same time period, 599 000 tonnes of non-board grain (e.g. canola and peas) were shipped through Churchill.

- The Churchill Gateway Development Corporation (CGDC) was formed in 2003 to diversify the product base shipped through the Port of Churchill, attract imported shipments and promote the port internationally. The CGDC is a public-private partnership comprised of the Province of Manitoba, Western Economic Diversification and OmniTRAX, Inc. This year, its work resulted a number of achievements, including the first step in the "Arctic Bridge" concept when a Russian ship unloaded imported fertilizer at Churchill.

- The CWB, working with the CGDC, helped facilitate the first-ever domestic grain shipment from Churchill, sending 12 000 tonnes of wheat to Halifax in September.

- Grain is shipped by the CWB through Churchill to dozens of destinations, including Italy, Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico, Sudan, Spain, Tunisia, West Africa and South Africa.

- The Churchill Catchment Area is the area from which most of the grain shipped through Churchill is drawn. In Saskatchewan, it includes the area surrounding Prince Albert, Humboldt, Canora and areas to the north. In Manitoba, it includes the areas around Swan River and Bowsman, up to The Pas.

CWB shipments % of all Churchill grain traffic
2007 621 000 tonnes 100%
2006 384 000 79
2005 353 361 76
2004 360 510 90
2003 470 674 80
2002 279 270 100
2001 411 883 82
2000 524 459 77

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