Head East

By Peter Hurme, Show Director & Editor, Cargo Logistics Expos+Conferences

Eastern Canada might be cooling down for the winter but is heating up with port and maritime infrastructure development news.

Perhaps the biggest news for the maritime sector this year was announced by the Gouvernement du Quebec regarding the $9 billion, 15-year maritime strategy to expand and enhance the region’s infrastructure, including the development of two significant logistics hubs.

Ports along the St. Lawrence River in the region include Montréal, Trois-Rivières, Bécancour, Québec City, and Sept-Îles; as well, there are three major North American Class One railroads servicing the area—Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, and CSX.

Quebec’s government and key stakeholders are touting the region as a gateway to North America, with the ability to reach a consumer base of 135 million within a 1,000-km radius of Montreal, including the U.S. upper Midwest and Northeast.

“We’re the shortest route to the hinterland of Canada and are well positioned to reach the U.S. Midwest cargo market,” said Sophie Roux, vice president of public affairs for the Port of Montreal in an interview at the port with Cargo Logistics Canada in September.

While the provincial government’s plans will aid the Port of Montreal, such as a $75 million investment in road access improvements, the port is also in the midst of expanding its container-handling capacity to 2.1 million TEUs, which includes the development of the Viau Terminal operated by Termont Montreal that is projected to accommodate up to 600,000 TEUs at full build out.

Anticipating future growth once the port’s local marine terminals reach capacity is the 10-year Contrecoeur Container Terminal project  — 40-km downstream from Montreal — that could eventually handle a maximum of 1.15 million TEUs.

Deepwater Opportunities in Nova Scotia

But wait — that’s not all for future eastern Canadian port projects.

Although the Port of Halifax is a well-established container port, there are two rival deepwater containerized trans-shipment terminal developments in Nova Scotia vying to get off the ground: one is the $350 million, 315-acre, 1.5-million-TEU Maher Melford International Terminal, and the $1.2 billion box terminal project at the Port of Sydney that would reach 1.6 million-TEU capacity at completion of its first phase, estimated by 2019.

The Maher Terminals project is an attempt to build on the success the company had on the West Coast of Canada with the container terminal at the Port of Prince Rupert, which Maher’s parent company, Deutsche Bank, sold to DP World earlier this year for $580 (Cdn).

However, Deutsche Bank is reportedly looking to sell off more, or possibly the rest of its Maher Terminals holdings, including its flagship terminal operation at the Port of New York-New Jersey, so the ownership picture of the Melford project moving forward is unclear.

In the meantime, as was recently reported by the sister shipping media publication of the Cargo Logistics Expos, London-based Lloyds List, a Chinese firm has signed an agreement with Harbor Port Development Partners to construct a container terminal at Port of Sydney.

China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) will also provide container cranes, gantries and other port-related equipment, and may take an equity stake in the port development project, Lloyds List reported.

The CCCC said it “views Sydney’s deep water harbour as a potential game changer for the North American eastern seaboard.”

Albert Barbusci, chief executive of HPDP, told Lloyd’s List that the company is in negotiations with several potential operators of the terminal and shipping lines that are well known to the industry.

“While HPDP is unable to disclose who these companies are at this stage, it can confirm that it will be looking to secure one of the majors, and we’re currently speaking to a few,” he told Lloyds.

“We have a 500 acre greenfield site for the terminal, 1,200 acres adjacent to the port for our Foreign Trade Zone and a whole warehousing plan in place for this, which will also be connected to the hinterland by rail,” Barbusci said.

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