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Port of Vancouver struggles to recover container, bunkering operations

Highlights

Flood continues to wash out railways

State of emergency extended to Dec. 14

Bunker prices rise but avoid shocks on lack of spot supply

Heavy rain in southwestern British Columbia stymied the recovery of rail and truck movements to and from the Port of Vancouver, two weeks after floods initially cut off Canada's busiest port from the rest of the country.

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The port is dealing with vessel delays, increased yard congestion, and a growing number of ships at anchor as berth availability depended on rail car supply, German shipping firm Hapag-Lloyd said in a customer advisory Dec. 1, adding that "full [is] recovery expected to take a number of weeks."

Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways are both operating on CP's rail link between Kamloops and Vancouver after CN's restored service was again washed out by floods, the Port of Vancouver said. Restored highway routes have been limited to essential traffic and closures and detours have been intermittent during periods of heavy rainfall.

A state of emergency for the entire British Columbia province has been extended to Dec. 14.

There were 10 container ships at anchor waiting to berth at the Port of Vancouver Dec. 1, up from five when rail service to the port was initially suspended on Nov. 17, according to cFlow, Platts trade flow software.

Canada's national government announced Nov. 24 that it was contributing C$4.1 million ($3.2 million) to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to develop a 40-acre parcel of land for the handling and storage of empty containers that have overwhelmed available space in terminals.

Marine fuel prices in Vancouver hold steady despite disruptions

The disruption of railway supply lines at the port has not created a spike in local marine fuel bunker prices because most delivered cargoes were distributed to contract buyers rather than to the spot market.

Spot 0.5%S retail pricing in Vancouver rose $2 to $608/mt ex-wharf, and the MGO assessment kept pace on a $2 gain at $773/mt ex-wharf.

At least one local supplier was expecting re-supply by the end of the week, a source said Dec. 1, adding that they would remain out of the prompt spot market in the interim.

A day prior, a different source cited another local supplier with supply issues when talking spot pricing higher.

"Avails are currently tight," the source said, adding that the supplier in question was awaiting resupply but "not having issues delivering to commitments [it] already had on the books."