2009 sees growth in grain and liquid bulk but overall throughput declines

VANCOUVER, Feb. 1 /CNW/ - Port Metro Vancouver's 2009 year-end cargo statistics report significant growth in grain, specialty crops and petroleum products, a modest increase in export laden container volume, and a decrease in total container count. Overall, the Port's 2009 total tonnage declined 11 per cent compared to 2008.

"At the end of a challenging and turbulent year, we're pleased to see gains in some principal Canadian exports, such as grain, specialty crops and crude petroleum," said Robin Silvester, President and CEO, Port Metro Vancouver. "Total foreign export volumes remained stable over the year, which reflects solid demand for high quality Canadian commodities and underpins the Port's value as Canada's most important Gateway to international trade."

The Port's overall volume of 101.9 million metric tonnes was down 11 per cent compared to 2008. Despite overall tonnage declines, some positive trends emerged in 2009. Total foreign exports were flat on the year, though Asia, led by China, emerged as a major factor in volume growth for bulk exports. While the recession had a mostly negative impact on international trade, the positive economic growth in China and India, along with stability in South Korea, translated into strong increases in exports of Canadian commodities to these trading partners through the Port.

On another positive note, volume decreases experienced during the first half of 2009 inched toward recovery in the third and fourth quarters, foreshadowing possible gains for 2010.

Overall container volume for Port Metro Vancouver decreased nearly 14 per cent, for 2.2 million TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent unit) on the year. The downturn in the economy and erosion of consumer confidence in 2009 led to an almost 19 per cent decline in laden container imports, while stable demand for containerized exports of forest products and specialty crops helped laden outbound units advance by one per cent. Although the Port's laden container business finished the year down 10 per cent, the sector recorded a marked improvement compared to the 17 per cent decline reported at mid-year.

Coal exports finished the year down six per cent, at 24.3 million metric tonnes, accounting for nearly one quarter of total port tonnage. Consistent growth in exports to South Korea and China throughout the year was complemented by the recovery of demand for metallurgical coal by major steel producers, such as Japan, in the second half of the year.

Grain, specialty crops and feed volumes increased 33 per cent and set a throughput record for grains at 18.1 million tonnes. These record volumes resulted from high carryover from a very good 2008 harvest, a larger than expected 2009 harvest, and very strong demand in Asia, South America and the Middle East. Canola increased 38 per cent on high demand from Asia, and volumes to China peaked in advance of its November 15 ban on Canadian canola. Wheat volumes through the Port advanced 38 per cent on strong demand from Latin American, South American and Middle Eastern markets.

Demand also remained strong for crude petroleum, which recorded a 77 per cent surge over 2008, as oil sand activity continued to direct outbound crude shipments through the Port to northern U.S. refineries. Gasoline, derived from the crude petroleum refining process, also experienced a five per cent boost over 2008 volumes.

Cruise passenger volumes increased five per cent in 2009 to 898,473 revenue passengers over 256 voyages through Port Metro Vancouver, in part from the diversion of the Carnival Splendour to the Vancouver-Alaska cruise from its usual southern itinerary.

Reflective of a declining trend in the North American market for automobiles, vehicles shipped through Port Metro Vancouver decreased by 15 per cent, to 387,230 units.

Potash volumes declined 65 per cent, following a record year in 2008. Low global demand, exacerbated by high prices, led to production curtailments and exceptionally low potash export volumes in 2009.

Sulphur volumes fell off 14 per cent as low demand in the first half of the year and declining supply from accessible sources affected volumes.

Forest products volumes dropped 21 per cent, primarily due to the severe downturn in the forest industry affecting domestic volumes. Foreign forest product volumes increased by one per cent, driven by strong demand from China. Forest product exports to China increased by 38 per cent in 2009. This was offset by domestic forest product volumes, which declined 33 per cent in 2009 as a result of reduced harvesting and milling as producers attempted to balance production with low levels of demand.

The decline in BC's industrial activity in 2009, particularly in the forestry and construction industries, produced a sharp negative impact on the Port's overall domestic volumes.

Domestic sand and gravel volumes declined 35 per cent due to reduced construction activity in the Metro Vancouver region. Volumes at mid-year decreased 53 per cent compared to 2008, reflecting a 50 per cent drop in the value of building permits in the Lower Mainland, but recovered slightly in the third quarter due to increased local construction activity.

Domestic shipments of logs were down 42 per cent, paper and paperboard down 19 per cent, woodchips down 18 per cent, and caustic soda down 43 per cent.

Domestic moves of consumer and related goods also declined 12 per cent, from 4.6 million tonnes to 4.1 million tonnes, reflecting the decrease in consumer spending that also contributed to the reduction in import containers.

Port Metro Vancouver is Canada's largest and North America's most diversified port, trading $75 billion in goods with more than 160 trading economies annually. Port activities generate 129,500 total jobs across Canada, $10.5 billion in GDP and $22 billion in economic output.

Access Port Metro Vancouver's complete 2009 statistics at www.portmetrovancouver.com/about/factsandstats.aspx

    
    Backgrounder:
    -------------

    Port Metro Vancouver's 2009 statistics at a glance

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Port Metro Vancouver: 2009 Year End Statistics (in metric tonnes except
    as noted)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cargo Totals                            2009          2008     Change (%)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Tonnage                    101,889,808   114,561,990        -11.1%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    CARGO TYPE
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Autos (in units)                     387,230       456,442        -15.2%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Break bulk                        14,550,913    20,313,638        -28.4%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Bulk - Dry                        56,780,220    63,359,622        -10.4%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Bulk - Liquid                     10,892,266     9,973,784          9.2%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Containerized                     19,279,179    20,458,504         -5.8%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    COMMODITY HIGHLIGHTS
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chemicals, Metals and Minerals    10,916,267    15,345,526        -28.9%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Coal                              24,257,376    25,930,257         -6.5%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Forest Products                   19,927,188    25,184,850        -20.9%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Grain, Specialty Crops, Feed      18,055,571    13,593,321         32.8%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Petroleum Products                 8,380,148     7,274,857         15.2%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Potash                             2,273,540     6,451,208        -64.8%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sulphur                            4,101,459     4,757,844        -13.8%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Containerized Statistics by TEU (twenty-foot-equivalent unit)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Container TEU                2,152,462     2,492,107        -13.6%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Laden TEU                    1,932,715     2,153,816        -10.3%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Import Laden TEU                   1,007,304     1,238,350        -18.7%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Export Laden TEU                     925,411       915,465          1.1%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cruise
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Revenue Passengers                   898,473       854,493          5.1%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vessel Sailings (in units)               256           254          0.8%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Foreign/Domestic Tonnage
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Foreign                           78,811,066    82,249,892         -4.2%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Domestic                          23,078,743    32,312,098        -28.6%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

SOURCE Port Metro Vancouver

For further information: For further information: see attached Backgrounder or contact: Communications and Government Affairs, Tel: (604) 665-9281, Email: Public_Affairs@portmetrovancouver.com

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