SAINT JOHN, N.B.–DP WORLD said it plans to make Saint John, New Brunswick, an Atlantic gateway for imports US-bound imports similar to what its Prince Rupert terminal does in the other direction on Canada’s Pacific coast.
The port is currently indergoing a seven-year, US$155.6 million expansion and modernisation plan, according to IHS Media.
The plan, still in the early stages, will more than double the port’s annual container capacity to 330,000 TEU, add on-dock rail capacity, and expand its berth and harbour to handle 8,500-TEU ships, which is what it expects will be workhorses.
DP World’s leasing of the Rodney Container Terminal earlier this year has further fuelled the fast-growing port’s hopes, but Saint John faces steep competition from fellow eastern Canadian ports, including Montreal and Halifax, and much work remains to make the rail connections to the US.
US shippers could move goods through Saint John to avoid sporadic congestion at the Port of New York and New Jersey, the largest US east coast port.
Aside from congestion, in and out of the terminals, US shippers also fear trouble from International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA).
The existing contract covering all US east and Gulf Coast ports expires September 30 2018, while the ILA contract covering Saint John doesn’t expire until 2021.
Some Saint John exports are also trucked down to NY-NJ, and imports from the major US port destined for Saint John consumers are hauled northward; more business for the small container port to reclaim.
The gulf in volume between the two DP World terminals on each Canadian coast is wide. Rupert has grown at an average 20 per cent clip since 2009, ending last year with 776,412 TEU. Saint John’s container volume in 2015 rose 8.4 per cent to 97,144 TEU. Container traffic at Saint John has rocketed 199 per cent from 44,377 TEU in 2011. DP World also operates a container terminal at Vancouver and the nearby nearby feeder port of Nanaimo.