Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Halifax Port container stats disappoint

The Port of Halifax has issued its container statistics for 2018 with little fanfare. I guess that would be expected from one of the few ports to show a decline in container trade over 2017. Citing the results as "consistent with 2017" which was a record year, was about the best face they could put on it.

Briefly: The 4th quarter showed a 7.2% drop in traffic to 130,200 TEU
For the year that resulted in 547,445 TEU, down 2.1% from the 559,242 in 2017.

It is always amusing to put the port of Halifax in perspective with some other ports of the world.
Here are a few examples:

Montreal 2018: 1,679,351 TEU, up 9.2% over 2017.

Prince Rupert 2018: 1,036,009 TEU, up 12% over 2017.

Vancouver 2018: 3,396,449 TEU, up 4.4% over 2017.

It is still to early for the world's major ports to assemble their stats, but here are a few interesting numbers:

Port of New York / New Jersey to November 2018: up 6.5%. 2017: 6.7 mn TEU

Rotterdam seems likely to exceed 2017's total of 13.7mn TEU by over 6%.

Singapore does about 3 mn TEUs per month!

Halifax is rather small potatoes by comparison to any other known container port, and the loss of even one line or the rationalization of others (all of which happened in the last quarter) can make a significant shift in numbers.

Being able to accommodate larger ships would have made no difference to the results for 2018, but that may not be true in the years to come as larger and larger ships come on line.

The Port also unveiled its master plan last week, and to no one's surprise it featured an expansion of the southend terminal at the expense of the deepwater finger piers. The plan seems to be putting a great many eggs in one basket and leaves many questions unanswered.

While the debate goes on, I will have more to say on the master plan in future blogs.

 Things were a little bit cheerier in the non-container activity in the port.

Non-container imports were down 5.7% to 266,421 tonnes, but exports were up a startling 42.7% to 127,721. (The fourth quarter saw a 190.4% jump - mind you this amounts to only 20,000 tonnes, roughly one shipload.)

The non Halifax Port Authority part of the port (Autoport, the Oil Terminals, National Gypsum, etc.,)
saw an increase in imports of 7.2% to 2,381,302 tonnes and exports up 10.1% to 1,839,438 tonnes (the latter figure would be almost totally gypsum.)

The cruise business was also ahead of 2017 with the number of ships up from 173 to 198 and passengers up 8.2% to 316,869 PEU [JOKE WARNING: PEU = Passenger Equivalent Units].


1. The unlabeled photo at the head of this post shows APL Columbus when it called here December 12, 2018. The CMA CGM ship scheduled to call here January 21, APL Detroit, did not show up. It bypassed Halifax completely and continued to ports on the US east coast.

2. The unlabeled photo at the tail of this piece is a container (slightly abused) that is used to welcome cruise ship passengers to Halifax.  It is part of a gangway system that protects them from the weather - I guess it also prepares them for the sensory deprivation they are likely to experience in Halifax on a rainy foggy day.


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