Canadian West Coast ports are not able to handle U.S. cargo spillover if disruptions are caused by the ongoing longshore contract negotiations. The ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert are already at capacity with Asian imports destined for U.S. and Canadian markets. Cliff Stewart, vice president of infrastructure at the Port of Vancouver said, “The terminals are full. There’s nowhere to put anything.”

A May 6 advisory from Maersk Line to its customers said the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is operating at 100% yard utilization and Prince Rupert at 113%. Typically, after a container terminal reaches 80% utilization, there is no buffer to handle cargo surges, and operations deteriorate.

While both ports have intermodal rail service throughout Canada and to the U.S. Midwest via Chicago, the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert are still dealing with freight disruption after fires, flooding and sub-freezing temperatures in British Columbia crippled the rail infrastructure in the province.

The Canadian railroad will need to muster all the rail capacity they have to handle what is scheduled to enter the country entering the summer-fall peak season. “We don’t have surplus rail capacity sitting around,” said Jonathan Wahba, vice president/commercial integration at Canadian Pacific.


Source: Journal of Commerce