Port reports drop in revenue and increase in freight
The CEO of Port Saint John said 2020 has been a successful year, despite the challenges created by the pandemic.
Revenue fell more than 30% to $ 16.5 million as the cruise ship industry shut down last year.
According to port annual report, this was the first year since 1988 that Saint John had no cruises.
But Jim Quinn said the port was able to keep costs down as well, allowing them to keep a full workforce and move projects forward.
“The pandemic has certainly created challenges for Port Saint John. I think we reacted well. I think we practiced prudent financial management, ”Quinn said in a telephone interview on Monday.
While revenues were down due to the pandemic, the amount of cargo passing through the port was not.
Overall freight tonnage at Port Saint John increased 2% to almost 26 million metric tonnes (MT).
The container industry has experienced a third consecutive year of growth under operator DP World, which has been striving to rebuild the container business since the transfer from Tropical Shipping to Halifax in 2017. TEUs – also known as Twenty Foot Equivalent Units – increased 15% to 79,179. while overall tonnage increased 19 percent to 580,279 MT.
Quinn attributed a few key factors to the continued success of the container industry.
“We have been in partnership with DP World for four years now, and in 2020 CP Rail has become very present and, with DP World and the port, they have worked very, very hard to attract new customers,” he said. he declares. .
This hard work seems to be paying off with Hapag-Lloyd start of weekly service to port from the Mediterranean last week.
Canadian Pacific, which recently extended its long-term rail service agreement with Hapag-Lloyd until 2025, regained access to Port Saint John in 2020 after acquiring the Central Maine & Quebec Railway and thanks to connections with the New Brunswick railways of southern and eastern Maine.
“It’s just an indication of the great strengths that CP and DP World have with us,” Quinn said, noting that he expects another significant increase in container traffic this year.
Container traffic was not the only area of significant growth for Port Saint John in 2020. Dry bulk freight increased by 31%, from 649,272 MT in 2019 to 854,243 in 2020, mainly due to the Nutrien potash from Saskatchewan.
Liquid bulk remained stable in 2020, accounting for over 94% of all cargoes passing through Port Saint John. The general cargo sector, which accounts for only 0.01% of all cargoes, is the only sector to experience a decline, from 7,209 metric tonnes in 2019 to 2,935 metric tonnes in 2020.
Quinn said he believed he was on the cusp of a major economic turnaround, noting that the $ 205 million modernization project on the port’s west side is now more than half finished.
The project includes consolidation of the Rodney and Navy Island terminals for a longer jetty, a terminal upgrade and a deeper shipping channel. The improvements will double the port’s container capacity, deepen the quayside draft and provide additional rail capacity at the quay.
Quinn said the port had asked the federal and provincial governments to improve the project.
“We are going to talk about it during our virtual port day on June 8 and we are going to talk about the economic impact analysis that we carried out, which has very promising and significant figures for our community and for our province. ,” he said.