Port of Vancouver Rides High on Grain Exports

Photo: Port of Vancouver

Posted by Eric Haun

Though overall cargo volume through the Port of Vancouver in 2016
decreased 1.8 percent to 136 million metric tons from 2015,
sectors experiencing declines were offset by others that hit new
records, including the bulk grain sector, according to the
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority released its 2016 year-end

"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-metric-tons, despite global economic downturns."

The Port of Vancouver marked its third consecutive year of record
volumes in bulk grain in 2016, its fifth year of an upward trend.
Bulk grain export volumes through the port increased 1.3 percent
from 2015, to reach 21.8 million metric tons 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

"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," Silvester said. "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 percent and 17.9
percent respectively. This growth was offset by a 16.4 percent
decrease in wheat exports due to adverse weather conditions. The
large increases in canola and specialty crops also offset
decreases in thermal coal (down 28.2 percent). The port's bulk
dry cargo of 84.6 million metric tons represents a 2.9 percent
decrease over 2015.

Containerized exports increased by 3.3 percent due to growth in
woodpulp, grain and food and agri-product shipments. This
increase was offset by a 2.4 percent decline in loaded import
containers and a total container quantities decrease of 4.1
percent, partly due to the return of some traffic to U.S. west
coast ports after their 2015 labor dispute, leading to a flat
result in overall laden container volumes for 2016.

A weak Canadian dollar and a slowdown in industry investment and
development activity in western Canada were reflected in the 17.2
percent decline in metal and project cargo imports in 2016. A 22
percent drop in breakbulk lumber and wood pulp also contributed
to a decline in overall import and export breakbulk volumes.
Breakbulk cargo declined by 1.4 percent, as a 3.8 percent
increase in domestic traffic was more than offset by decreases in
wood pulp (down 22.9 percent) and construction and materials
(down 28.6 percent).

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

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

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

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 percent, as
major cruise lines continue to invest in the Alaska itinerary.

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

"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." Silvester
said. "Investments are already underway to build capacity for
this growth in multiple sectors."

New Records for 2016 include:

  • Total cargo shipped in containers at 25.1 million metric tons
    (MMT), slightly over the previous 2015 high of 25.0 MMT.
  • Bulk grain at 21.8 MMT, up 1.3 percent over the previous 2015
    high of 21.6 MMT.
  • Canola at 7.1 MMT, 9.1 percent higher than the previous 2012
    high of 6.5 MMT.
  • Specialty crops, including pulses and lentils, at 4.2 MMT,
    17.9 percent 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 percent 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 percent decrease in tonnage compared to

Mar 1, 2017

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