The Nanaimo Port Authority and its facilities operating manager, DP World, completed successful trials of short sea shipping of containers last week, the first project of its kind at the Duke Point facility.
The two parties, who signed a three-year agreement in January, targeted barging containers to the Lower Mainland as one of its projects to increase diversification and efficiency of Nanaimo’s port services.
Doug Peterson, port manager of marketing and sales, said the trial of loading and off-loading the barge went well, and the service will add another dimension for Vancouver Island clients looking to ship goods to the Lower Mainland.
“It was a trial shipment to see how it would go in utilizing our container crane at Duke Point,” he said. “Both ourselves and DP World are committed to the continuation of this short sea shipping, which is the movement of cargo in a much more efficient and environmentally sensitive way.”
Historically in Nanaimo, cargo has been moved through the roll-on, roll-off process, either by B.C. Ferries or Seaspan Marine. The new lift-on, lift-off capacity provides more efficient cargo transfer by eliminating the middle reloading step, allowing customers to directly receive their containers and ship them overseas. The process reduces the risk of damage to containers, creates employment at the port and helps the environment by taking trucks off the road.
Kerry Lige, DP World spokesman, said the service fills a growing demand on the Island.
“There is limited ability to get traffic back and forth between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland so what this does is provide what we believe is a very cost effective, very efficient process to get cargo to Vancouver and ultimately on its way to international destinations,” he said.
Initially, the new service will run on a weekly basis.
The barge, currently being modified for its new task, will be able to carry about 140 marine containers at a time. Lige said DP World and the Nanaimo Port Authority will host an open house at the end of June to showcase the new service, which is expected to begin at the end of July.
DP World operates 60 deep sea terminals worldwide, including general cargo and container handling facilities, as well as cruise ship terminals, including Nanaimo’s.
Current commodities handled at NPA’s three berths include traditional forest products, salt and kaolin.
Until now, Vancouver Island was one of the world’s highest population, non-road connected islands without lift-on, lift-off container terminal facilities.
Peterson said short sea shipping will ensure greater connectivity for trade to and from Vancouver Island.
“Everything worked very well so we’re very enthused about the future for a container barging service from Vancouver to Nanaimo,” he said.
Earlier this week, NPA’s Duke Point facility began receiving 55 massive wind turbines, destined for Vancouver Island’s first wind farm to be located at Cape Scott.