PORTS in the US and Canadian Pacific Northwest are a hive of activity as they prepare to accommodate large cargo surges when the big containerships operated by the mega shipping alliances call.
"It's obvious there will be increased consolidation with bigger container exchanges from fewer ships coming at us faster," said Peter Xotta, vice president of planning and operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority in British Columbia, reported IHS Media.
To handle the mega-ships, the ports have a two-pronged strategy. They are building more marine terminal and inland infrastructure connectors so they don't get shut out by carriers because of insufficient capacity.
Those are multi-year projects, though, so the ports are also focusing on improving operational efficiencies in order to accommodate the cargo surges that are present today.
Big ships, with their huge cargo discharges, have strained the marine terminal and inland transportation infrastructure of all of the ports in the region.
Thus, ports are investing hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 15 years to ensure that capacity remains ahead of demand. It will be a close call, however. This, is especially true in Vancouver.
A redevelopment project is underway at the Centerm facility to increase the capacity of the terminal by two-thirds, Mr Xotta said. If the environmental prerequisites are approved on schedule, construction could begin next year, with completion of the project by 2019.
The Deltaport Terminal Road and Rail Improvement Project will improve cargo handling and truck mobility, and streamline the transfer of intermodal containers to trains and Vancouver's largest container terminal.
The project is in various stages of design and construction, and will eventually expand the capacity of Deltaport to 2.4 million TEU, up from 1.8 million TEU.
Longer term, Vancouver is in the early stages of planning for the new, three-berth Terminal 2 project at Roberts Bank. The facility will have an annual capacity of 2.4 million TEU, and the target date for completion is the mid-2020s.
Prince Rupert is progressing smoothly with the first of two projects to expand its Fairview Container Terminal. The project at the north end of the terminal is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2017. The north expansion will increase the port's annual capacity to 1.3 million TEU from the current 850,000 TEU.
In the US, the Northwest Seaport Alliance is working through its strategic planning process to reconfigure, combine or repurpose the nine existing terminals that are split between Seattle and Tacoma. In the central peninsula (Tacoma), the Husky terminal is being rebuilt and modernized to accommodate vessels up to 18,000 TEU.
In the north harbour (Seattle), the former APL Terminal 5 has been shut down and the business moved over to Terminal 18. The CEO of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, John Wolfe, said design work on Terminal 5 is 90 per cent complete, and construction on what is now a vacant facility could begin later this year. When completed, the terminal will be able to handle two 18,000-TEU ships simultaneously.
Source : HKSG.