Phase one is still under construction, but Phase Two is already being talked about as a major necessity; such is the state of the world’s trade these days. The Fairview Container Port is scheduled to welcome its first ship in the fall of next year and before the first line even comes ashore plans are in the making for a further expansion.
Ideally the plan would be to just continue on with the construction after the final weld is done and the last giant crane installed on Phase one, but according to Don Krusel the more likely timetable for a phase two start would be in early 2008.
The increased interest in a phase two comes along, as the shipping world tries to come to grips with a growing bottleneck of trade in the traditional North American ports. Especially when they considered the situation in Vancouver of late, which is actually beginning to hurt Canada's reputation in international trade.
When you consider the tone of that discussion, it's no wonder that Don Krusel had an attentive audience in Vancouver this past week, taking part as he was in a conference about Canada-Asia Maritime trade, his comments found a new the ears of a group of people who apparently were quite receptive of the news coming out of the northwest.
Which of course is the incentive to get a phase two up and running as soon as possible
The Daily News featured all the optimistic talk in its Friday Headline piece.
SKY IS THE LIMIT FOR PORT’S BOLD EXPANSION PLANS
Much work already done to get ready for phase two
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, October 6, 2006
Pages One and Seven
With construction of Phase One of the Fairview Container Terminal well underway, the Prince Rupert Port Authority is aggressively pursuing the construction of Phase 2 in order to meet the demand of the marketplace, said Don Krusel, president and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.
“Our desire would be to start Phase Two as we finish Phase One but that is really overly optimistic and really aggressive schedule,” said Krusel.
“Probably, more optimistically, Phase Two will commence in the fist part of 2008.”
Phase One will see the existing terminal converted to handle up to 500,000 containers per year, while Phase Two will triple that amount, up to two million containers per year.
Phase One is expected to open in the fall of 2007.
The port is currently in the process of doing the environmental studies and all the regulatory activity that has to take place prior to construction of Phase Two.
“We are about 70 per cent complete in the engineering, it’s going to take a little bit longer to finalize that engineering and that of course will drive everything else,” he said.
And if they can find a way to move more quickly to meet the demands of the market, they will, said Krusel.
“The market is going extremely fast. There is a real concern in the industry about container handling capacity on the entire West Coast of North America and we wish dearly we had some magic wand we could wave and get the second phase up and running within the year,” he said.
“We are really pushing a very aggressive timeline and we will do everything we can to push a more aggressive time line.”
So far, there has been lots of interest from shipping lines in the new terminal.
”Maher Terminals and CN are the ones responsible for marketing the facility to the shipping lines, however I think it will be safe to say there will be announcements before this year is out as to which shipping line will be operating through here,” he said.
Krusel spoke to industry representatives earlier this week at the Canada-Asia Maritime Conference in Vancouver.
At the conference, he presented the port’s plans as one way to meet the significant challenges facing importers and shipping lines trying to traffic goods through congested West Coast transportation networks.
“There was so much discussion about the challenges about insufficient capacity on the West Coast to meet the demand, discussion of challenges, bottlenecks and congestion through existing transportation corridors,” said Krusel. “I was able to stand up in front of a crowd and talk about the soon-to-be-open brand new transportation corridor. It generated a lot of excitement.
“It was the same crowd, not the exact same crowd but the same group of industry who a few years ago were quite skeptical and they are now cheering it on.”
The provincial government’s Minister of Finance Carole Taylor was also cheering on the project this week as one way to diversify B. C.’s economy.
During a luncheon with the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce, Taylor explained that one of B. C.’s weakness is its attachment to the U. S. economy, which is currently in a downward spiral.
And the softwood lumber disagreement has people waking up to the need to develop other markets, she said.
“The United States is always going to be our biggest trading partner, but with the softwood I think we all got a little bit of a smack…” she said.
“We have got to broaden our trading horizons and be thinking more globally. And we are the gateway to Asia.
Given that the two fastest growing economies in the world are India and China, it makes sense for B. C. to develop its western connections.
“The Port of Prince Rupert is the closest port to Asia compared to any of the West Coast ports, it’s ice-free year-round and you’ve got a rail connection,” she said.
“It is obvious Prince Rupert is going to be the solution.”
Taylor has been both the chair of the Vancouver Board of Trade, the Vancouver Port Corporation, and Canada Ports Corporation.
“We are just on the cusp on things coming alive. I’m a delighted things are finally starting to take shape,” she said.