Saturday, December 15, 2007

Looking ahead to the future at Fairview

The Port Corporation has a four year timeline to have Phase Two of the Fairview Container Port up and operating, a timeline that is a little longer than they first anticipated owing to the fact that they will have to expand the facilities while the port is in active operation.

Don Krusel, the president and CEO outlined some of the factors involved in the development of Phase Two, including the current slowdown of goods moved through West Coast ports. Which Krusel said showed signs of slowing in the third quarter of 2007.

That is a situation that in part is due to a slowing American economy, which some expect will be in a recessionary phase in the new year. Since the movement of many of the goods through Prince Rupert has a destination of Mid America, that could very well result in a change of the timeline of development. How a lengthy slowdown of the American economy and the subsequent decline in imports might impact on the future plans of development is one of the unknowns at this time.

There was much to discover from Friday's front page story in the Daily News, where the blueprint for future expansion was outlined.

Construction will have to take place without impacting existing operations
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, December 14, 2007
Pages one and three

With Phase One of the Fairview Container Terminal in operation, the Port of Prince Rupert has a four-year timeline for the construction of Phase Two of the development.

Phase Two is currently scheduled to open in 2012.

Don Krusel, president and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, said the port extended the timeline in 2007 in order to realistically accommodate the construction that will need to take place around the operational Phase One terminal.

“The construction timeline is going to take longer. We originally anticipated the construction would be on a two-year time frame, but it’s going to be three years,” said Krusel. “One reason it is going to take longer is because we will be building around an operating terminal. They have to factor in coordination with existing operation.”

For example dynamite blasting will only be able to take place during certain windows, when the Phase One operation is not in use.

The port is hoping to have construction on Phase Two underway during 2008 and still considers its timeline to be “quite aggressive”.

However, they recognize it is not as fast as some would like.

“If we go back and look at the most recent projections and goals that have been established by the Pacific Gateway initiative, we recognize that it is not fast enough in the sense that traffic is expected to build a lot faster and we would like to build faster,” said Krusel.

Having said that, in the third quarter of 2007, there has been a slowdown in the growth level of container traffic on the West Coast of North America.

“The real question in the industry right now is “is this a short-term pause while the market catches its breath or is this thing more long-term.” That will really depend on the U. S. economy and what happens there,” said Krusel.

“If this is a short term pause… then there is not two ways about it, it would be far better for us to have it built sooner rather than 2012. However, if it’s a long term trend, things may be more matched to demand.”

Phase One of the Fairview Container Terminal opened this October. It is located on a former break bulk facility. Operated by Maher Terminals, the facility has the capacity to handle up to 500,000 TEU’s (container units) per year.

Phase Two, which will see the ship berth, yard and rail facility extended away from the city, will see an additional 1.5 million TEU capacity added.

The port submitted its project description for its environmental assessment to the federal government in may of this year and they hope to have that process complete in 2008.

“Mainly because of all the permitting and regulator work that has to be done- the environmental review process and the coordination of a multitude of different agencies- we are recognizing as we go down that road, things will take longer than anticipated,” said Krusel.

Two weeks ago, the port meet with many regulatory agencies involved and toured the site.

Krusel said he believes everyone involved in the assessment is aware of the project’s importance not only at the national level, but to the international shipping community.

“I think everybody sense the need to move forward.”

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