Port of Prince Rupert sees drop in cargo volume in 2022

For the second year in a row, the Port of Prince Rupert marked a decrease in cargo volumes, the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) announced on January 19.

The Fairview Terminal. Image: Port of Prince Rupert

In 2022, 24.6 million tonnes of cargo moved through the port versus 25.1 million tonnes in 2021, a two per cent decrease. The Port Authority blamed supply chain challenges, changing energy demands and geopolitical tensions for the year-over-year decreases.

“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,” Shaun Stevenson, president and chief executive officer at PRPA said.

While overall cargo volumes decreased, the changes in cargo volumes varied greatly between terminals.

DP World Prince Rupert’s Fairview Container Terminal saw a two per cent decrease in volume of shipments from 2021 to 2022, after moving 10.4 million tonnes in 2022. The decrease was caused by congestion at inland ports, PRPA stated in a press release.

While there was a backlog, they took advantage of the situation and used it to expand the southern terminal, increasing the total annual capacity to 1.6 million TEUs. There are also plans for a northern expansion, set to break ground in 2023, PRPA stated. The second expansion will increase the terminals’ capacity to 1.8 million TEUs.

In February 2022, the PRPA and DP World also announced plans to complete a feasibility assessment for a new container terminal project. If they decide to build a second terminal, it will double the intermodal capacity at the port.

The Prince Rupert Grain Terminal moved 3.2 million tonnes of agricultural products in 2022, representing a nine per cent decrease from the prior year. The PRPA attributed the drop to a poor crop year and stated a stronger 2022 harvest has led to “healthier export volumes”

Similarly, Trigon Pacific Terminals shipped more than seven million tonnes of material in 2022, a three per cent decrease from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the export of energy products increased in 2022. AltaGas’ Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal shipped 1.7 million tonnes in 2022, a 17 percent increase from 2021.

Pembina’s Watson Island Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Bulk Terminal dealt with 538,000 tonnes, a 45 per cent increase in volume from the prior year. This was their second year in operation.

Drax’s Westview Wood Pellet Terminal also experienced an increase, albeit smaller, of six per cent, after shipping 1.5 million tonnes of material in 2022.

Challenges due to changing trade and supply chains highlight the importance of current projects, including the container terminal expansions, the expansion and diversification of existing terminals and the creation of new energy export facilities, Stevenson said.

“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,” Stevenson said.