Known mostly to those in the China-North American trade, Prince Rupert Port, managed by the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA), has become a beacon for access into the Canadian and American markets. Boasting the closest port to Asia on the North American West Coast, their year-round deep-water access has attracted the attention of both the major shippers and carriers in this lane.
Prince Rupert Port has one of the deepest natural harbors in the world and the deepest inner harbor entrance of any West Coast North American port. With a channel depth of 35 meters and terminal berths of 17 meters, Prince Rupert Port is capable of handling the largest vessels deployed in the transpacific trade, including Maersk's new “Triple E.”
In recent years, most of the world's largest container carriers have added Prince Rupert Port to their schedule; Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Co, Hanjn, and Cosco call regularly, as do expanding lines like UASC. In addition to their booming container business, the port is also capable of exporting almost 20 million metric tons of bulk commodities annually, due primarily to PRPA's intermodal business with Canadian Northern Railways (CN) that allows them to bring containers into North America while shipping products out either by container on in-bulk.
Business volume between North America and the Pacific Rim, is booming, explained Don Krusel, the Prince Rupert Port Authority President and CEO explained; in 2005, the West Coast (US & Canada) handled 23 million TEU's, with British Columbia's share 9.3 %. By 2020 (and subject to not having another 2008-style economic collapse); the West Coast is on target to move 44 million TEU's, with British Columbia's share growing to 17%.
International trade does bring prosperity; in 2012 the PRPA employed some 1,500 whose salaries injected U.S. \$ 80 million into the local economy and paid U.S. \$ 35 million worth of taxes that were used for critical infrastructure, schools, and social services.
The Shortest Trade Route Between North America and Asia:
Although the Port of Los Angles remains, the busiest container port in the United States (per TEU); the major shippers and carriers are increasingly utilizing Prince Rupert Port. The advantages are obvious; as more and more businesses adopt Just-in-Time systems that require weekly arrivals of raw materials, parts, or finished goods, Prince Rupert offers the geographic advantage of being North America's closest port to key Asian markets by up to three days, it's 36 hours closer to Shanghai than Vancouver and over 68 hours closer than Los Angeles – this gives the buyer a 36-68 hour production advantage and safety margin over every other West Coast North American port.
Designed to provide a turn-around with maximum speed and efficiency, PRPA's modern high throughput bulk and container terminals provide shippers with a distinct competitive advantage in their supply chain management strategies. All of the terminals at Prince Rupert Port have the capacity to increase volumes or expand their operations as the port has an additional 400 hectares (990 acres) of land for expansion.
The 24 hectare (59 acre) Fairview Container Terminal is the first dedicated intermodal (ship to rail) container terminal in North America and currently has the capacity to move 750,000 TEU's annually. The container terminal was completed September 2007 and operations began with the arrival of COSCO's Antwerp on October 31, 2007. Maher Terminal, one of the world's largest independent multi-user container terminal operators, signed a 30-year agreement with the Prince Rupert Port Authority to manage the terminal.
Port details (as of October 2013):
Total area: 24 hectares (59.4 acres)
Operational Capacity: 750,000 TEU's
Depth: 18.7 meters (61.4 feet)
Equipment: 3 @ 1,800 MT Super Post-Panamax Cranes, 22 cntrs wide-reach, 17 reach stackers/top lists, 72 reefer plugs, 4 radiation portals
Rail Access: Chicago in 100 hours!
A deep-water harbor is only Step 1; Step 2 is moving TEU's to their destination, and this is what makes Prince Rupert Port so successful; PRPA connects directly into the Northwest Transportation Corridor, a modern rail and road network engineered and built to carry massive volumes of freight. CN is rated as U.S. Class 1 Railway and is the only transcontinental railway in North America. They have substantial links into the US mid-west, and its reach extends south into Mexico. The Trans-Canada links Prince Rupert Port to the rest of North America while the Alaska Highway links it northward.
CN is the only railway to serve ports on the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, which means greater efficiencies for shippers, importers and exporters. Free of urban congestion, the rail line travels along the Northwest Transportation Corridor through the most moderate rail grade in the Canadian Rockies and on to North America's heartland through Chicago before arriving in New Orleans. For Canadian shippers, the line continues east to deliver or pick up containers competively and quicker in Toronto and Montreal than the all-water routes into Baltimore or New York.
Should volume continue to increase? CN has confirmed to the PRPA their ability and interest to expand significantly in order to accommodate large increases in cargo traffic.
Outbound Bulk Shipments:
Met Coal – Barley – Lumber – Wood Pellets – Potash – Wheat...
Prince Rupert Grain is one of the most modern and efficient bulk terminals in the world; soft commodities are brought by rail to the terminal to be loaded onto ships as large as 145,000 DWT. The terminal has 17-kilometers (10.4 miles) of rail trackage and a load rate of 4,000 MT / hour.
Ridley Terminal Inc. is one of the world's most efficient bulk terminals. RTI handles non-soft bulks such as metallurgical and thermal coal, petroleum coke, wood pellets, and has the potential to ship other products such as sulfur. A fully automated facility, the 55-hectare terminal loads at a rate of 9,000 tons per hour and has an annual shipping capacity of 12 million tons and storage capacity of 1.2 million tons.
Both the container and bulk terminals share the same basic advantage over every other North American West Coast port: are closeness to Asian markets by 36 hours sailing time that utilizes CN's superior rail connections in Canada's coal and mineral-rich western provinces along with Canada and America's prairie grain gathering points. While ports such as Dubai and Singapore excel in fast-turn for distribution into their smaller nearby markets, the Prince Rupert Port Authority is the only port worldwide with a port and intermodal combination that offers competitively-priced and time-sensitive delivery up to 2,500 miles inland that services America and Canada's 340 million people while giving them access into Asia, now 40% of the world's population. Shanghai – Chicago – Montreal – and back to Shanghai in less than 60 days; even Malcom McLean never dreamed containerization could offer such a service.