• Friday, February 15, 2019

Port Update 2018: Prince Rupert Port

By BCShippingNews 24 September 2018
Photo by Lonnie Wishart
Exclusive interview with new CEO Shaun Stevenson...

The Prince Rupert Port Authority Board of Directors could not have chosen a better candidate to fill the position of President and CEO than Shaun Stevenson. Stevenson’s 21 years of experience with the organization, including his last position as Vice President, Trade Development and Public Affairs, have already seen him in the lead for much of the strategic planning and business development activity as Prince Rupert has transitioned from a small, regional port to a major trade gateway over the last 10 years. Steering the Port into the next decade, Stevenson has set his focus on the tremendous opportunities for growth — not just in current business but in new, diversified capabilities as well. And with a priority on the continued development of partnerships — both within industry and the community — Stevenson is ready to take the Port to new heights.

At the foundation of Prince Rupert’s growth, the DP World Prince Rupert Fairview Container Terminal — now capable of a throughput of 1.35 million TEUs following last year’s completion of the Phase 2A expansion — will see further expansion to 1.8 million TEUs. The Phase 2B project was announced in mid-June this year with the start of construction expected by mid-2019. 

Stevenson noted that, in addition to the expansion, he and his team are also working on building services and capabilities that can add value as part of an overall port ecosystem. “Stuffing operations like CT Terminals with rail service lumber transload, or Ray-Mont Logistics with agri commodities factor significantly into the import and export logistics capabilities of the Port,” he said. “In addition, we’re also integrating their operations with the terminal through digital and IT systems to provide shippers greater visibility of the supply chain.”

As noted earlier, a key to Stevenson’s strategy is the diversification of capabilities. Following that theme, he noted great support for Ridley Terminals and the introduction of the AltaGas propane terminal project as well as expansion into dry bulk cargoes. “We’re seeing a lot of interest for the liquid bulk market. AltaGas is the first to move forward in that area but Vopak is also looking at the feasibility of developing a large liquid bulk terminal on Ridley Island,” Stevenson said noting that the project “would add another 10 million tonnes per annum in liquid bulk capacity for propane, butane and other cargoes like methanol, diesel and vegetable oils that the West Coast is in dire need of to ensure that we can have market access for western Canadian energy production.”

A central tenet for facilitating the growth of the Port of Prince Rupert is the need to ensure that common infrastructure is there to support private sector investment. To that end, Stevenson and the Port will be undertaking a planning exercise over the next 12 months to identify and prioritize the infrastructure investments needed. “We have the potential to grow from our current 25mt of cargo to 50mt over the next 10 years but to do that, we need to ensure we are enabling that growth through enhancements of existing operations as well as new capacities.”

Stevenson added that, with more than $35 billion in trade going through the Port (the third highest in Canada), hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in infrastructure will be needed. “Partnerships with governments, industry, First Nations and the community are critical to facilitate this as is investor confidence. Clarity and trust in the permitting process and environmental assessments that are robust, done in a timely fashion and protect the interests of all stakeholders is important to allow all of us to capitalize on the opportunities.”

In addition to highlighting the excellent working partnership between the Port, DP World and CN on the Fairview Terminal, Stevenson commented on partnerships like those with First Nations where there is entrenched economic participation in port operations and future expansion. “We’re really proud of that and other partnerships within the community that provide for a real commitment. A prosperous port is not just in the creation of jobs but in the investment we make that contributes a higher quality of life.”

Continuing on with the discussion about infrastructure funding, Stevenson was asked his thoughts about the Port Modernization Review and the limits the Canada Marine Act places on a port’s financing instruments. “It’s a challenge when looking for ways to fund infrastructure improvements that are needed to meet our mandate,” he said. “One of the things that the review will provide is for feedback in that regard.” He added that all ports are at different stages of growth. “In Prince Rupert’s case, we’re an expanding port with a need for significant investment in infrastructure so that the private sector can come in and build new terminals. That takes a thoughtful and committed federal infrastructure program to prioritize those investments that will support increased trade to the benefit of all of Canada.”