Saturday, February 15, 2020

Port Paralysis Ahead

Protests against a pipeline crossing indigenous territory in British Columbia have spread in scope and in location, extending all the way to the Port of Halifax. Now highlighting many other grievances,  the protests appear to have become deeply entrenched and threaten the country's economy.

The most disruptive of the protests are two encampments adjacent to the CN main railway line near Belleville, ON, which have cut off all freight and passenger rail traffic between Montreal and Toronto. CN plans to stop all rail operations east of Toronto, and ports such as Halifax, Saint John, Quebec City and Montreal are now restricted in terms of what cargo they can import or export. All of the other ports, except Halifax, have alternate rail corridors, whether through CPR or CSX or short lines. Whether CN will co-operate to interchange traffic out of or into Halifax seems unlikely at this point. All import cargo that leaves Halifax by rail for the US midwest is routed through Montreal and then to Toronto.

A train carrying export and intermodal cargo did arrive in Halifax on Friday morning, and I believe an autorack train arrived today (Saturday) however it does not seem likely that there will be many more. Containers are beginning to pile up in terminals and shipping lines may have started to bypass Halifax already. Some commodities - particularly propane for home heating are already being rationed in Halifax.

The Port of Halifax will become a very quiet place if container traffic grinds to a halt. A small protest, highlighting some local grievances blocked the Cerescorp main gate at Fairview Cove earlier in the week, but was short lived.

NB: Please note I am not unsympathetic to the issues raised by the demonstrators. However I try to keep Shipfax as a source of information, rather than opinion, so will refrain from taking sides, and try to be as fair as possible.

Ironically harbour activity in Halifax today  appeared to continue as usual.

BBC Rio remains tied up at pier 27, with a cargo of rails for CN. Since longshoremen only work Monday to Friday on these cargoes, the ship was idle today.

The ship's own 80 tonne cranes are used to work the cargo, which is stockpiled on the pier until CN needs it. It is then railed to Winnipeg for preparation.
The ship's hull was built by Damen Okean in Mykolayiv, Ukraine in 2003 and completed by the Damen Hoogezand yard in the Netherlands. Launched as Ile de Reunion, it was renamed 03: Frida, 04: BBC England, 13: BBC Ecuador, 14: Thorco China, 16: BBC England, 17: England and later in 2017 took its present name. The 7576 gt, 10,300 dwt ship flies the Netherlands flag.

Arriving for THE Alliance, MOL Maxim headed straight for Cerescorp, Fairview Cove. Just how much cargo is waiting for it is a question. So is the fate of its inbound cargo. Will it be unloaded here or carried on the another port such as New York, where it has a better chance of reaching the US mid-west in any sort of predictable time frame ?

The "M" class MOL ships are new to Halifax. Built in 2010 by Mitsubishi Heavy, Kobe, MOL Maxim is a 78,316 gt, 79,393 dwt vessel with a capacity of 6724 TEU, including 500 reefers.


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