Port of Vancouver

Port of Vancouver

February 28, 2017 09:00 ET

Strong demand for Canadian agriculture results in robust year for Port of Vancouver

Overall stable volume maintained through diversification and record volumes of bulk grain exports

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Feb. 28, 2017) - The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority today released 2016 year-end statistics for trade through the Port of Vancouver. Overall volume decreased slightly to 136 million tonnes of cargo, down 1.8 per cent from 2015. Sectors experiencing declines were offset by others that hit new records, including the bulk grain sector.

"One of our biggest strengths has been, and continues to be, the port's ability to accommodate the most diversified range of cargo of any port in North America," said Robin Silvester, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. "Since 2013, the Port of Vancouver has experienced its fourth consecutive year of traffic volumes over 135-million-tonnes, despite global economic downturns. Thanks to the confidence that port users and terminal operators have shown in the Vancouver gateway, combined with our focus on infrastructure development and sustainability, the Port of Vancouver is well-positioned for continued growth. We are pleased that investments are already underway to build capacity for this growth in multiple sectors."

This is the Port of Vancouver's third consecutive year of record volumes in bulk grain and its fifth year of an upward trend. Bulk grain export volumes through the port increased 1.3 per cent from 2015, to reach 21.8 million metric tonnes in 2016. Strong global demand for Canadian agriculture was met with a bumper crop in Canada and increased exports of grain through the Port of Vancouver.

"The continued growth in grain volumes through the Port of Vancouver demonstrates the strong reputation of Canadian grain and reflects the expansion plans we are seeing for this commodity in particular," continued Robin Silvester. "Demand for Canadian grain from many countries is being met by farmers across Canada and by terminals who continue to invest in new technology."

Record bulk grain exports were driven by higher volumes of canola and specialty crop exports, which are up by 18.9 per cent and 17.9 per cent respectively. This growth was offset by a 16.4 per cent decrease in wheat exports due to adverse weather conditions.

Containerized exports increased by 3.3 per cent due to growth in woodpulp, grain and food and agri-product shipments. This increase was offset by a 2.4 per cent decline in loaded import containers, partly due to the return of some traffic to U.S. west coast ports after their 2015 labour dispute, leading to a flat result in overall laden container volumes for 2016.

The weak Canadian dollar and a slowdown in industry investment and development activity in western Canada was reflected in the 17.2 per cent decline in metal and project cargo imports in 2016. A 22 per cent drop in breakbulk lumber and wood pulp also contributed to a decline in overall import and export breakbulk volumes.

Metallurgical coal volumes increased 1.8 per cent in 2016 due to a 64.3 per cent increase in exports to India and sustained demand from Japan, China, and South Korea. Overall coal volumes are down by 6.1 per cent in 2016, due to a 28.2 per cent decrease in thermal coal exports.

The cruise industry in Vancouver is experiencing stable growth as demand for Alaskan cruises continues to increase. In 2016, the port welcomed 228 cruise ships and 826,820 passengers compared to 805,400 passengers in 2015, an increase of three per cent, as major cruise lines continue to invest in the Alaska itinerary.

About Vancouver Fraser Port Authority:
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the federal port lands in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. It is accountable to the federal minister of transport and operates pursuant to the Canada Marine Act. The Port of Vancouver is Canada's largest, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo, facilitating trade between Canada and more than 170 world economies. Located in a naturally beautiful setting on Canada's west coast, the port authority and port terminals and tenants are responsible for the efficient and reliable movement of goods and passengers, integrating environmental, social and economic sustainability initiatives into all areas of port operations. Enabling the trade of approximately $200 billion in goods, port activities sustain an estimated 100,000 supply-chain jobs, $6.1 billion in wages, and $9.7 billion in GDP across Canada.

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New Records for 2016 include:

  • Total cargo shipped in containers at 25.1 million metric tonnes (MMT), slightly over the previous 2015 high of 25.0 MMT.
  • Bulk grain at 21.8 MMT, up 1.3 per cent over the previous 2015 high of 21.6 MMT.
    • Canola at 7.1 MMT, 9.1 per cent higher than the previous 2012 high of 6.5 MMT.
    • Specialty crops, including pulses and lentils, at 4.2 MMT, 17.9 per cent higher than the previous 2015 high of 3.5 MMT.
  • Metallurgical coal at 26.2 MMT, slightly higher than the previous 2014 high of 26.1 MMT.
  • Foreign gasoline at 1.4 MMT, 16.5 per cent higher than the previous 2015 high of 1.2 MMT.

Overall cargo traded through the Port of Vancouver declined in 2016, posting a 1.8 per cent decrease in tonnage compared to 2015.

Auto volumes increased by 2.3 per cent compared to 2015, with 393,280 units moved through the port in 2016.

Breakbulk cargo declined by 1.4 per cent, as a 3.8 per cent increase in domestic traffic was more than offset by decreases in wood pulp (down 22.9 per cent) and construction and materials (down 28.6 per cent). These decreases can be attributed, in part, to a shift in moving cargo by containers, and weak industrial activity in western Canada.

Bulk dry cargo of 84.6 million tonnes represents a 2.9 per cent decrease over 2015. Large increases in canola (up 18.9 per cent), and specialty crops (up 17.9 per cent) offset decreases in thermal coal (down 28.2 per cent) and wheat (down 16.4 per cent).

Bulk liquid tonnage was down by 2.2 per cent over last year. The sharp decrease of 39.7 per cent in crude petroleum exports is consistent with the fall in global oil prices. This is offset by increased gasoline volume of 16.2 per cent, diesel and fuel oils (up 18.5 per cent) and vegetable oil (up 13.4 per cent).

Containers quantities (measured by TEUs or twenty-foot equivalents) decreased by 4.1 per cent due, in part, to some cargo shifting back to U.S. terminals after labour instability at U.S. west coast ports in 2014 and 2015 caused an increase in containers handled through Vancouver in the first half of last year.

Cruise passengers increased 2.7 per cent at 826,820 passengers over 228 cruise ship visits for 2016 versus 2015.

Foreign vessel calls were slightly down in 2016 by 0.7 per cent over 2015, with 3,105 calls.

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