GCT Global Container Terminals will invest $160 million in the Vanterm terminal to support innovation and add 215,000 TEU of annual capacity to its facility at the port of Vancouver.
The announcement Friday reflects an ongoing push by Vancouver’s three largest container terminals — Deltaport and Vanterm, operated by GCT Canada, and Centerm, operated by DP World — to increase capacity as container volumes continue to grow at a land-constrained port. Conflicting proposals by the port authority and GCT Canada, its largest tenant, have created uncertainty as to how the port will expand to accommodate future growth.
Vancouver is expected to reach full utilization of its marine terminal capacity within 10 years. Vancouver, the fifth-largest container port in North America, last year increased laden container volume 3 percent to 2.78 million TEU, according to port statistics.
The capital investments announced Friday will improve efficiency, reduce diesel emissions, and add capacity at the 76-acre terminal in Vancouver’s Inner Harbor. Two new ship-to-shore cranes will allow Vanterm to more efficiently service the 14,000-TEU vessels now calling in Vancouver. New Tier 4 container-handling equipment will reduce diesel emissions and greenhouse gas emissions with the addition of four rubber-tire gantry cranes that allow for more efficient, higher, and wider container stacking to five-high throughout the terminal. Densified stacking and improved equipment availability will increase throughput capacity based on relevant rail infrastructure and rail switching provisions, the GCT stated.
Also this week, DP World announced that it will purchase Fraser Surrey Docks, a mixed-use facility that handles breakbulk cargoes and about 250,000 TEU a year. However, the river facility is limited by draft restrictions from handling the largest container ships, so it is not destined to have a significant impact on expansion of Vancouver’s container capacity.
Vancouver’s container terminals are operating at 85 percent of capacity, Cliff Stewart, the port’s vice president of infrastructure, told JOC.com. As utilization increases, terminal productivity can be compromised by a variety of factors such as late vessel arrivals and weather events. The port authority and terminal operators are promoting expansion programs to handle growing container volumes and improve cargo-handling efficiency.