Steady 2022 cargo volumes through the Port of Vancouver, led by Canadian resource exports and strong second half
Vancouver, B.C.: Overall cargo volumes through the Port of Vancouver decreased by 3% in 2022, following a rebound in the second half of the year led by Canadian resource exports. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s 2022 statistics, released today, show a total of 141.4 million metric tonnes (MMT) of goods moved through Port of Vancouver terminals in 2022, compared to 146.5 MMT in 2021.
Following a slow start impacted by supply chain challenges and 2021’s drought-affected harvest, Canadian grain and fertilizer exports recorded the largest gains in the second half of the year, as overall cargo volumes through the port bounced back. However, strong grain volumes from September onwards were not enough to offset the early year slump, with overall bulk grain volumes down 23% for the year.
“Global demand for Canadian goods remained strong in 2022 as geo-political instability spurred appetite for our grain, energy and fertilizer exports,” said Robin Silvester, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal agency mandated with enabling Canadian trade through the Port of Vancouver.
Bulk grain was up 34% in the second half of 2022 compared to the same period last year as the Prairies’ 2022 bumper harvest made its way to market through the Port of Vancouver, with grain terminals setting two consecutive monthly grain-handling records—3.3 MMT in October and 3.4 MMT in November.
Fertilizer exports through the Port of Vancouver were up 13% with potash having a near-record year after increasing by 11%, while sulphur jumped 22%. Coal increased by 6%, and aviation and jet fuel was up by 88% over 2021.
Cruise experienced a comeback year in 2022 with a record 307 cruise ship visits to the Canada Place terminal at the Port of Vancouver after a two-year hiatus due to pandemic restrictions, while auto volumes recovered over the second half of the year with Q3 (6%) and Q4 (26%) volumes increasing compared to 2021 as supply-side issues started to resolve.
“I would like to acknowledge and thank the entire port community and our industry partners for their hard work over the past year keeping Canada’s trade moving efficiently through the port day in and day out at a time when the world needed us,” continued Silvester.
In 2022, overall container volumes eased—down by 3% compared to the record set in 2021—largely due to ongoing inland supply chain congestion. Container terminals at the Port of Vancouver handled the second highest volume of laden imports, in line with pandemic-driven high demand for imported consumer goods. Container volumes decreased late in the year as a result of softening consumer demand coupled with increasingly overstocked inventories, which was in part due to a challenging planning landscape for retailers in the midst of global supply chain uncertainty. Laden exports decreased partly due to lower grain exports following 2021’s poor harvest as well as a reduced availability of empty containers to load export cargo. Record east-bound transpacific freight rates resulted in a high number of containers leaving the Port of Vancouver empty.
“A decline in container volumes that started around December is providing much-needed relief from the surge volumes the port experienced throughout 2021 and much of 2022,” Silvester said. “However, the underlying story hasn’t changed, with the Port of Vancouver handling its second highest annual volume of containers on record in 2022. Additional container capacity at the Port of Vancouver remains desperately needed due to sustained, long-term growth in container trade as Canada’s population, economy and trade all continue to grow.”
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project—recently approved by the federal government following a rigorous environmental assessment process that started in 2013—will deliver that capacity. The port authority is now working towards obtaining other applicable approvals and permits to advance the project, which will increase the Port of Vancouver’s container terminal capacity by nearly 50% and is expected to create more than 17,300 ongoing well-paid jobs and handle an estimated $100 billion in trade each year once operational.
“The national and global disruptions over the past year highlighted the need—now more than ever—to work together as a country to support Canadian exporters and protect trade through our country’s ports. The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is essential to this,” Silvester said. “The federal government’s recent approval is a vital step towards delivering Roberts Bank Terminal 2—a project that will improve supply chain capacity and resilience, support Indigenous reconciliation, and protect and enhance the natural environment we all cherish.”
Overall cargo was down 3% to 141.4 MMT compared to 2021. Volumes for the second half of the year grew 4% compared to the same period in 2021 and 6% compared to the first half of 2022.
Container volumes at the Port of Vancouver decreased 3% to 3.6 million TEUs. Imports decreased 4% to 1.8 million TEUs and exports decreased 2% to 1.7 million TEUs.
Breakbulk increased 0.2% to 19.8 MMT. Log, wood pulp and construction materials volumes increased by 0.7%, 8% and 24% respectively, while basic metals decreased 8% compared to 2021.
Bulk dry decreased 3% to 89.9 MMT. Coal, potash and sulphur volumes increased 6%, 11% and 22% respectively, while grain volumes were down 23%.
Bulk liquid decreased 0.1% to 9.1 MMT. Petroleum products volumes increased 6% and canola oil volumes decreased 49%.
Cruise vessel calls increased 7%, while the number of passenger visits decreased 24% compared to 2019.
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About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the Port of Vancouver
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the federal agency responsible for the shared stewardship of the Port of Vancouver. Like all Canada Port Authorities, we are accountable to the federal minister of transport, and operate pursuant to the Canada Marine Act with a mandate to enable Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver, while protecting the environment and considering local communities. The port authority is structured as a non-share corporation, is financially self-sufficient and does not rely on tax dollars for operations. Our revenues come from port terminals and tenants who lease port lands, and from port users who pay various fees such as harbour dues. Profits are reinvested in port infrastructure. The port authority oversees the use of port land and water, which includes more than 16,000 hectares of water, over 1,500 hectares of land, and approximately 350 kilometres of shoreline. Located on the southwest coast of British Columbia in Canada, the Port of Vancouver extends from Roberts Bank and the Fraser River up to and including Burrard Inlet, bordering 16 municipalities and intersecting the traditional territories and treaty lands of more than 35 Coast Salish Indigenous groups. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo. Enabling the trade of approximately $305 billion in goods with more than 170 world economies, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada.See All News
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