Shipping in Canada 2011

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The Canadian economy continued to strengthen in 2011 after the global economic slowdown of 2009. Real gross domestic product increased 2.4%, following the 3.2% increase in 2010 1 . The nominal value of total merchandise trade rose 11.7% to $914.1 billion. Both exports and imports rose, 13.2% and 10.2% respectively 2 .

The recovery from the economic downturn of 2009 resulted in an upswing in marine activity at Canada's ports and marine terminals in 2011. Total cargo handled reached 466.1Mt, up 3.5% over the 2010 level of 450.5Mt. This growth was attributed to increases in both domestic 3  and international cargo shipments.

International Marine Traffic

In 2011, the growth in global trade 4  was reflected in higher levels of international cargo (between Canadian and foreign ports) handled at Canadian ports, which rose 7.4Mt to 341.5Mt. The gain was almost exclusively the result of increases in outbound shipments destined for Asia. International marine cargo departing from Canadian ports rose by 7.3Mt to reach 227.3Mt in 2011, primarily on the strength of increased shipments to both China (up 5.5Mt) and South Korea (up 4.9Mt). In contrast, over the same period, marine cargo shipments to the United States declined by 5.0Mt.

Principal commodities contributing to the overall rise in international outbound cargo were coal (up 4.2Mt); iron ores and concentrates (up 1.8Mt); lumber (up 1.5Mt); and potash (up 1.4Mt).

Total international shipments of crude petroleum remained the country's dominant commodity in 2011.

Container Traffic

Both the tonnage and volume of international container traffic handled at Canadian ports rose in 2011. While the tonnage rose 5.1% to 40.6Mt from 38.7Mt, the volume of containers increased marginally by 0.8% to 4.6 million TEUs from 4.5 million TEUs in 2010. The main driver behind the overall growth was increased two-way trade with China.

The largest increases in both the tonnage (up 1.0Mt) and volume (up 63,738 TEUs) of international containerized cargo were registered at the port of Prince Rupert. However, Port Metro Vancouver continues to handle the majority (53%) of the country's international containerized cargo tonnage.

Canada – United States Cargo

Canada's marine cargo traffic to and from the United States declined 6.2% in 2011 to 96.6Mt, down from 103.0Mt in 2010. This drop was precipitated by decreased shipments of both outbound (down 7.2%) and inbound (down 4.2%) freight.

The declines in marine cargo shipments from Canada to ports in the United States were driven by reductions in crude petroleum (down 14.1% or 3.2Mt) and fuel oils (down 15.0% or 1.4Mt). Outbound cargo to both United States Atlantic and Gulf and United States Pacific ports each declined (down 11.0% or 5.0Mt and 5.8% or 0.5Mt, respectively). Only shipments to United States Great Lakes ports showed an increase of 3.9% or 0.5Mt.

The reduced tonnage in inbound cargo, derived primarily from declines in coal (down 3.0Mt or 27.0%), was offset somewhat by increases in arrivals of fuel oils, and iron ores and concentrates (each up 0.7Mt). Geographically, cargo arriving from United States Great Lakes ports declined 3.3Mt or 13.4%. At the same time, arrivals from United States Atlantic and Gulf ports were up by 1.7Mt or 26.9%, while those from United States Pacific ports grew 0.2Mt or 4.7%.

During 2011, the proportion of marine cargo (38.7%) moved between Canada and the United States by ships registered in Canada remained unchanged from the year previous. These Canadian-flagged vessels continue to occupy a dominant position regarding cargo shipments between Canada and ports in the United States Great Lakes Region where they moved 89.4% of the tonnage, compared with 86.4% in 2010. On the United States' Pacific coast, Canadian-registered vessels handled 24.2% of the tonnage, up slightly from 23.9% in 2010. Shipping activities between Canada and ports in the United States Atlantic and Gulf Region were conducted primarily by foreign-flagged vessels.

Canada Overseas Cargo

International marine tonnage shipped between Canada and countries other than the United States grew 6.0% to 245.0Mt in 2011 from 231.2Mt in 2010, due to an increase in both outbound and inbound shipments.

The tonnage of outbound shipments of marine cargo to countries other than the United States reached 163.7Mt (up 12.2Mt). The majority of the gains were almost exclusively in freight destined for Asia (up 12.5Mt or 14.7% over 2010), which comprised almost 59.4% of Canada's outbound cargo. Increased shipments to South America (up 1.4Mt or 13.8%) were completely offset by a noticeable decline in cargo departing for Africa (down 1.4Mt or 27.4%).

The principal commodities responsible for the increase in outbound shipments to countries other than the United States were coal (up 4.8Mt or 12.7%), and iron ores and concentrates (up 2.2Mt or 7.4%).

In 2011, Canadian ports saw an increase in the inbound shipments of cargo from countries other than the United States, with tonnages rising to 81.3Mt from 79.8Mt in 2010. The main contributors to this growth were shipments from Africa (up 2.5Mt or 12.5%), Central America and Antilles (up 1.1Mt or 27.9%), and the Middle East (up 0.7Mt or 7.8%). These gains were partially offset by reductions in cargo from South America (down 2.5Mt or 19.0%).

Canadian-registered vessels continued to carry a small proportion (0.1%) of the marine cargo shipped between Canada and overseas. The majority of foreign (excluding the United States) marine cargo was carried by vessels registered in Panama (25.8%), Liberia (12.4%), Hong Kong (9.2%) and Greece (8.4%).

Domestic Cargo

In 2011, Canadian ports and marine terminals handled 124.6Mt of domestic cargo, up 7.1% from 116.4Mt in 2010. This increase was driven primarily by crude petroleum (up 2.2Mt or 8.3%); fuel oils (up 2.0Mt or 26.7%) and wheat (up 1.5Mt or 18.3%).

Each of Canada's regions participated in the growth of domestic cargo in 2011 with variances noted by region and commodity.

The Atlantic Region experienced a 7.2% growth in 2011 driven by increased movements of crude petroleum (up 2.2Mt or 8.5%), and stone, sand, gravel and crushed stone (up 0.7Mt or 49.6%).

The St. Lawrence Region saw its 2011 shipments increase by 3.3Mt or 12.6% over the prior year. This growth was primarily attributed to increases in fuel oils (up 1.5Mt or 41.4%), iron ores and concentrates (up 0.9Mt or 22.1%), and wheat (up 0.8Mt or 23.0%).

The Great Lakes Region reported a 1.0Mt or 3.4% increase over 2010 due mainly to increases in shipments of salt (up 1.0Mt or 33.3%), wheat (up 0.6Mt or 14.5%) and colza seeds (canola) (up 0.6Mt or 57.6%). Partially offsetting this rise was a drop in shipments of stone, sand, gravel and crushed stone (down 0.8Mt or 20.8%).

The Pacific Region showed an increase of 1.2Mt or 5.2% over 2010 due to increased shipments of wood chips (up 0.7Mt or 7.5%), limestone (up 0.6Mt or 34.0%) and stone, sand, gravel and crushed stone (up 0.5Mt or 17.1%). This was partially offset by a reduction in shipments of logs and other wood in the rough (down 0.9Mt or 13.4%).

Port Authorities

The 17 Canadian Port Authorities 5  (CPAs) handled 285.2Mt of cargo in 2011, an increase of 6.0% from the 269.0Mt handled in 2010. These ports and terminals moved 61.2% of all marine cargo handled in Canada in 2011, compared with 59.7% in 2010.

Port Metro Vancouver remained the nation's busiest port in 2011, handling 107.6Mt of marine cargo, an increase of 2.8% over the tonnage handled in 2010. Increases in both international and domestic activity contributed to the overall growth in shipments. The commodities primarily responsible for this increase were coal (up 1.8Mt) and potash (up 1.7Mt). These gains were partially offset by a 1.8Mt reduction in the tonnage of crude petroleum handled at the port in 2011. The port retained its position as Canada's leading container facility, handling 55.0% of all international containers in 2011. In 2011, the tonnage of containerized cargo handled rose 3.5% to 21.4Mt from 20.7Mt in 2010. However, the volume of this freight remained virtually unchanged at 2.5 million TEUs.

The port of Saint John, New Brunswick realized a 2.9% growth in shipping activity as tonnage handled at the port rose to 31.5Mt in 2011. The growth in tonnage was largely the result of higher international shipments of crude petroleum (up 1.0Mt or 8.6%), fuel oils (up 0.6Mt or 10.0%) and other refined petroleum and coal products (up 0.5Mt or 16.9%). The volume of international containerized cargo handled declined 9.0% to 42,760 TEUs from 47,013 TEUs in 2010, while its tonnage declined 7.6% to 257,646 tonnes from 278,741 tonnes the year previous.

The tonnage handled at the port of Québec, including Lévis, rose to 29.0Mt in 2011 from 24.6Mt in 2010. The gain was due primarily to higher international shipments of iron ores and concentrates (up 2.2Mt or 60.2%); and crude petroleum (up 1.2Mt or 13.6%).

In 2011, the port of Montréal, including Contrecoeur, handled 27.9Mt of cargo, an increase of 12.5% over the 24.8Mt moved in 2010. Activity at the port grew on the strength of higher levels of inbound freight, both international (up 1.9Mt) and domestic (up 1.7Mt). In particular, substantial increases were noted in inbound shipments of gasoline and aviation turbine fuel (up 1.5Mt or 44.0%) and fuel oils (up 1.3Mt or 88.4%). Even as the tonnage of international containerized freight handled rose 3.7% to reach 12.1Mt, the volume was virtually unchanged at 1.2 million TEUs. Shipments of international containerized cargo represented over 43% of the total marine cargo handled at this port.

The port of Sept-Îles, including Pointe-Noire, registered an increase of 1.2Mt to 25.8Mt in tonnage handled in 2011 as compared with the prior year. This gain was due predominately to international departures, which were almost exclusively of iron ores and concentrates. This commodity accounted for 88.1% of all the freight handled at the port.

The total cargo handled at the port of Prince Rupert rose to 18.8Mt in 2011 from 15.5Mt in 2010. Strong growth in outbound shipments of the port's principal commodity, coal, was largely responsible for the gain. Over the last three years, the tonnages handled rose from 3.3Mt in 2009 to reach 8.8Mt in 2011. In 2011, the number of TEUs of international containerized cargo handled rose 18.6% to 405,717 from 341,979 in 2010, while its tonnage grew by 39.6% to 3.6Mt from 2.5Mt over the same period.

In 2011, the port of Hamilton experienced a 12.2% drop in tonnage handled, falling to 10.0Mt from 11.4Mt in 2010. This reduction was due primarily to a drop in international inbound shipments of iron ores and concentrates (down 75.5% from 2.4Mt to 0.6Mt), as a result of reduced demand from Hamilton's steel mills.

Total cargo handled at the port of Halifax in 2011 fell to 9.9Mt from 10.2Mt the previous year. The decrease was entirely attributable to a reduction in international cargo (down 0.7Mt or 8.7%). The largest contributor to this decline was inbound shipments of crude petroleum which dropped 24.9% (from 2.1Mt in 2010 to 1.6Mt in 2011). Both the tonnage and volume of containerized cargo shipments at the port were lower in 2011. The tonnage of international containerized cargo handled at Halifax in 2011 fell by 4.8% to 3.1Mt while the TEU count dropped to 369,002 from 392,328 the year previous.

In 2011, total cargo handled at the port of Thunder Bay increased by 12.7% to 7.6Mt over the 6.8Mt handled in 2010. This represents a reversal after three consecutive years of reductions in tonnage handled at the port. The principal drivers behind this increase were domestic outbound shipments of wheat (up 0.9Mt or 25.4%) and colza seeds (canola) (up 0.4Mt or 79.1%).

The port of Windsor, Ontario experienced a 7.4% decrease in marine shipments in 2011, falling to 4.9Mt. Increases in domestic shipments (up 6.7%) were insufficient to offset the decline in international activity (down 18.4%).

Cargo handled at the port of Trois-Rivières reached 3.2Mt in 2011, an 11.0% increase over the 2.9Mt handled in 2010. The majority of this increase resulted from greater international activity. Specifically, gains were noted in outbound shipments of wheat (up 0.2Mt or 40.0%) and inbound shipments of alumina (up 0.1Mt or 28.1%).

For the second consecutive year, the port of Nanaimo experienced a strong growth in marine activity, with marine cargo up 0.8Mt to reach 2.2Mt in 2011. Both international and domestic shipments contributed to the increase in overall shipments.

In 2011, marine activity at the port of Belledune fell 4.4% to 2.0Mt. Reductions in both domestic and international cargo were responsible for the decline. After increasing to 95,666t in 2010, domestic departures of stone, sand, gravel and crushed stone were almost negligible in 2011. In addition, reductions of 12.9% (to 0.8Mt) were reported in international arrivals of coal.

The port of Toronto experienced a strong year of marine activity in 2011, resulting in 1.8Mt of cargo handled. This reflected a 20.9% increase over the 1.5Mt moved in 2010. Both domestic and international inbound shipments contributed to this growth.

Total tonnage handled at Port Alberni rose sharply in 2011 (up 34.8%) to reach 1.4Mt, compared with 1.0Mt for 2010. This increase was driven by a 62.2% (or 0.3Mt) rise in international departures of the port's primary commodity, logs and other wood in the rough.

The tonnage of cargo handled at the port of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador in 2011 declined to 1.4Mt compared with 1.5Mt the prior year, with both domestic and international shipments contributing to the decline. The largest tonnage changes were reductions in the outbound domestic shipments of fuel oils (down 69,366 tonnes), and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (down 51,129 tonnes).

Marine activity at the port of Saguenay declined to 0.3Mt in 2011 from the 0.4Mt experienced in 2010. Both domestic and international shipments contributed to the decline. In particular, inbound domestic tonnage of salt fell 45.2% to 53,655 tonnes. In addition, outbound international shipments of wood pulp decreased 32.5% to 52,736 tonnes.

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