Port of Prince Rupert’s Annual Cargo Volumes Drop for Second Consecutive Year

Port of Prince Rupert’s Annual Cargo Volumes Drop for Second Consecutive Year

January 19, 2023

The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) announced today that 24.6 million tonnes of cargo moved through the Port of Prince Rupert in 2022, two percent behind 2021 volumes.

The slight year-over-year decrease reflects the mounting challenges brought on by supply chain disruptions affecting imports and exports, rapidly changing energy demands, and geopolitical tensions over the past 12 months. Despite the current volatility, considerable strides were made toward developing a more resilient and sustainable trade gateway in the near and long-term through further diversification, new capacity, and expanded services. 

“The Port of Prince Rupert needs to evolve its services and capabilities, or our Gateway’s competitiveness will erode. Global trade and supply chains are changing rapidly, and we must adapt,” said Shaun Stevenson, President and CEO, Prince Rupert Port Authority. “It highlights the importance of the projects that are currently in development, including container terminal and logistics service expansions, as well as the expansion and diversification of existing terminals and creation of new export facilities needed to support Canada’s role in global energy security. As these projects reach critical decision points, 2023 will define the future of the Port of Prince Rupert.”

DP World Prince Rupert’s Fairview Container Terminal saw a 2 percent decrease in its intermodal volumes in 2022. Growth was hampered due to congestion at inland ports that impacted operations and fluidity in Q2 and Q3. Amid the backlog, the southern expansion of Fairview Terminal increased its total annual capacity to 1.6 million TEUs. This project enables greater resiliency and adds much-needed intermodal capacity on Canada’s west coast. Planning for a northern expansion of Fairview Container Terminal is underway, with construction anticipated to begin in 2023. Once completed, the terminal’s capacity will reach 1.8 million TEUs.  

Trigon Pacific Terminals, formerly Ridley Terminals Inc., moved over 7 million tonnes through its coal terminal. 2022 coal volumes represent a 3 percent decrease over the previous year. In November, Trigon announced it was approved for a $75 million contribution from the National Trade Corridors Fund towards the construction of a second berth that will enable the terminal to diversify its cargo mix and double its export capacity.

Demand for western Canadian energy products remained strong in 2022, with AltaGas’ Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal shipping 1.7 million tonnes, a 17 percent increase over 2021. Pembina’s Watson Island LPG Bulk Terminal entered its second year of operations, handling over 538,000 tonnes, a 45 percent jump year-over-year. Drax’s Westview Wood Pellet Terminal saw a 6 percent increase in volumes, with over 1.5 million tonnes sent to markets in Europe and Asia.

A poor crop year contributed to Prince Rupert Grain experiencing a challenging start to 2022 and resulted in the terminal shipping over 3.2 million tonnes of agricultural products, a 9 percent drop year-over-year. A significantly stronger 2022 harvest year led to healthier export volumes in Q4, and the terminal is on track to rebound in 2023.  

Cruise ships returned to Prince Rupert in 2022 in a significant way after a two-year hiatus, marking the busiest cruise season in over a decade at the Port. 40,998 cruise passengers transited through Prince Rupert, a 230 percent increase over 2019 levels. PRPA also announced a 10-year Terminal Operating Agreement with Global Ports Holding (GPH) – the world’s largest independent cruise port operator. Starting in 2023, GPH will manage the shore excursion program and oversee all cruise scheduling and passenger services at the Port of Prince Rupert.  

In 2022, the Port of Prince Rupert moved ahead on numerous strategic projects that are critical to expand and diversify the trade gateway. These projects are essential elements in ensuring the Port of Prince Rupert can continue to anchor competitive, resilient, and sustainable Canadian trade and supply chains: 

  • The Vopak Pacific Canada project reached a significant regulatory milestone when federal authorities reached a final determination on the project’s Environmental Effects Evaluation. Vopak continues to consider a final investment decision for the bulk liquids storage facility located on Ridley Island.
  • The completion of the Fairview Container Terminal southern expansion coincided with the commissioning of PRPA’s new Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor – a 5km private haul road and two additional rail sidings – that shortens the truck distance to the terminal, diverts container truck traffic away from public roadways, and links Fairview to future transloading facilities on Ridley Island.
  • Progress was made on two unique transloading facilities at the Port of Prince Rupert. Early works have begun on the South Kaien Import Logistics Park that will provide for the development of expanded import transloading services at the Gateway. PRPA also continues to advance the development of the proposed Ridley Island Export Logistics Platform, which will enable large scale transloading at the Port and unlock new opportunities for western Canadian producers and exporters.  
  • PRPA and DP World entered into a two-year agreement to assess the feasibility of a second container terminal, which would double intermodal capacity at the Port. The proposed terminal represents the continued advancement of PRPA’s container terminal master plan, which outlined the potential for a second intermodal terminal with considerable employment and economic benefits to the regional and national economies.  
  • Shore power was commissioned at both berths at Fairview Container Terminal, allowing ships to power down their generators and rely on electrical power while at berth. Shore power is a key part of PRPA’s Carbon Reduction Plan, which aims to reduce the Port’s greenhouse gas intensity by 30 percent from 2018 levels by the year 2030 and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 
  • Wolverine Terminals completed the construction of the berth for its upcoming marine fueling delivery service. The rail and fuel distribution barges are under construction with expected delivery in 2023. This project will provide important fueling services to cruise and cargo vessels in Prince Rupert.

“We are focused on continuing the challenging task of developing a dynamic gateway that serves Canada’s trade needs and plays an important role in aiding the global energy transition,” said Stevenson. “The Port has the opportunity to secure over $2 billion in new project investment in 2023, which represents supply chain capacity and resiliency for the country, and new employment, economic opportunity and tax base for the local community and region.  PRPA’s commitment to realizing a vision of a competitive, diverse, sustainable gateway will ensure we continue to build a better Canada, and a better Prince Rupert, by growing trade.” 

Click here to see the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s December 2022 traffic summary. 

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