Triple throughput capability | Pacific Terminal project in response to increasing export demands
Viterra is spending more than $100 million to upgrade the Pacific Terminal at the Port of Vancouver.
The company announced April 10 that it will perform “operational improvements and upgrades” that will nearly triple the terminal’s throughput capabilities.
Viterra president Kyle Jeworski said the most significant element of the upgrade will be the installation of a new ship loading system, which will allow the terminal to load ships more quickly and efficiently and increase throughput capacity to more than six million tonnes per year.
“When you’ve got a new ship loading system, (it allows) increased speeds, more efficient loading of vessels and the ability to load larger vessels,” Jeworski said.
“This will more than double us, actually almost triple the capacity of that facility on an annualized basis.”
Jeworski described the Pacific Terminal project as a significant, long-term investment in a strategically important asset.
He said the terminal expansion should not be viewed as a response to supply chain constraints that have hindered the movement of prairie grain to international markets during the past few months.
“We are not at capacity at that (terminal) today, so this isn’t a reaction to the immediate concerns,” Jeworski said.
“This is an identification of a long-term trend of increasing demands on the West Coast and of Viterra looking at how we can make an investment to match those long-term trends with export capabilities.”
The terminal upgrade will not include an expansion of existing storage capacity, he added.
“At this point, we don’t see the need to change the physical storage,” Jeworski said.
“The facility is approximately 140,000 metric tonnes of storage capacity so we believe that’s ample capacity.… With enhanced receiving of rail car capabilities and increased shipping, the storage as it sits today is quite significant actually.”
Pacific Terminal is one of three grain terminals that Viterra owns on the West Coast.
The company also has a 75 percent share in Vancouver’s Cascadia Terminal and is a part-owner of Prince Rupert Grain at Prince Rupert, B.C.
In addition, Viterra owns a pair of terminals at Thunder Bay, Ont., and one at Montreal.
The Pacific Terminal upgrade is the second major terminal upgrade announced at the Port of Vancouver in the past two years.
Last year, Richardson International received approval to go ahead with a $120 million expansion at its export facility in North Vancouver.
The Richardson expansion will build 28 concrete storage silos and add 80,000 tonnes of new storage capacity to the facility.
Jeworski said the upgrades at Pacific Terminal will enhance Viterra’s position on the West Coast and allow it to deliver more Canadian grain to international customers.
The terminal will be capable of loading “post Panamax” ships when the upgrades are complete in 2016.
This size of ship is currently too large to squeeze through the Panama Canal, but a $5.25 billion expansion of the locks and canals in Panama will allow larger ships to use the important shipping route.
Jeworski said the new loading system at Pacific Terminal will allow post Panamax ships to be loaded more quickly.
“We believe that this will be the single fastest loading system in the Port of Vancouver,” he said.
“Our goal is to create the most efficient port terminal in Canada with unprecedented capability for processing a diverse range of commodities.”
Pacific Terminal, which is located on Burrard Inlet, processes and ships a wide variety of agricultural commodities, including peas, canola, flax, lentils, soybeans and corn.
“Demand for trade to and from Canada is increasing, and it is essential that Port Metro Vancouver, and terminals within the port, respond with sustainable and well-managed growth,” said port president Robin Silvester.
“Viterra’s operational upgrades are an excellent example of increasing capacity and efficiency within their existing footprint.”