Vessel lineups increasing at West Coast

The number of ocean-going vessels waiting to be loaded with grain at the Port of Vancouver has increased to 30.

It’s the highest number the port has seen in more than a year.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Western Canada’s supply chain for grain and oilseeds is functioning poorly, says Mark Hemmes of Quorum Corp., who is in charge of the federal grain monitoring program.

Those kinds of numbers certainly warrant attention, but grain is still flowing well from prairie elevators to port position and export volumes are good, he added.

“We don’t see any reason to panic right now ,” Hemmes said.

“The system is still pretty much humming along.”

Figures from the grain monitoring program’s Week 32 update show that the lineup of vessels at Vancouver has increased by four.

The current one-year average is 18 vessels, and the port reached a record high of 38 in January 2014, when the western Canadian supply chain for grain and oilseeds was severely congested.

Hemmes said 30 vessels is unusually high, which nobody likes to see.

However, most port terminals are still recording good throughput.

Fifteen vessels cleared at Vancouver in Week 33, suggesting efficient throughput despite challenging incessant rain that has hampered loading.

Most terminals have systems in place that can allow loading to continue through periods of light rain or unsettled weather. However, loading activities usually are suspended during periods of prolonged steady rainfall, which is common in Vancouver at this time of year.

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