VIAU terminal VIAU terminal to see further expansion

Continued growth is being accommodated with new capacity at Montreal. AJ Keyes discovers how the port is well-placed for future success.

By the end of September 2019, the Port of Montreal had handled almost 1.31 million TEU, an increase of 4.6% over the comparable period of 2018. Over the past five years, total port traffic, which includes dry and liquid bulks, containers and general cargo, has increased by an average of 6.7% per annum, proving demand for using this port remains strong -  and especially for containers.

At the start of Q2 2019, the VIAU terminal expansion was confirmed with an additional 250,000 TEU of annual capacity to be added during 2019-2020. This will bring the facility’s total throughput capability to 600,000 TEU per annum. It was a decision positively acknowledged by one of the port’s major container shipping line customers, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

“The increase in terminal capacity is coming at the right time for us, it ensures the future growth of our services in Montreal,” said Sokat Shaikh, President and CEO of MSC Canada, before adding, “MSC has grown by more than 10% a year for the past five years. The additional capacity at VIAU Terminal will support such growth over the next two years. Then we will have to move on to the next step.”

The next step referred to by Mr. Shaikh is, of course, the new largescale Contrecoeur development. The aim of the new Contrecoeur terminal is to meet the long-term needs of importer and exporter shippers and cargo owners who want to use Montreal and take advantage of its excellent location close to major local markets in Quebec, while also serving the competitive US Midwest markets.

The project is planned to deliver capacity of 1.5 million TEU per annum when fully built. Current scheduling indicates construction will commence in 2020, conditional on all necessary permits in place (as expected), with the facility commissioned in 2023-2024.

A recent and highly crucial step in the process was confirmed with the news that the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) is to work in partnership with the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) to help develop the new terminal at Contrecoeur.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed in which CIB and MPA will develop the financial structuring of the new
facility, with key areas of planning and procurement for the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the new terminal addressed.

MPA also stated that this joint process could lead to a potential investment in the project for CIB (subject to all due diligence and decision-making processes being approved).

Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of MPA confirmed the relevance, and importance, of this latest development. “This commitment by the Canada Infrastructure Bank is a key milestone in the progress of our project towards its completion. This collaboration with this new partner confirms the national importance of our project, whose purpose is to support the growth of international trade for Canada.”

From the perspective of CIB, the Contrecoeur development is an attractive option because it helps the organisation serve its mandate. President and CEO, Pierre Lavallée, confirmed that the project “represented the type of initiatives” that will help diversify and expand Canada’s trade.

CIB retains a primary focus on transformational projects that are revenue-generating and in the public interest. In addition, it has a range of priority investment sectors, including public transit, trade and transportation and green infrastructure.

A Crown corporation in Canada, CIB has a mandate to utilise CAD$35 billion of Federal funding to attract private sector and institutional investment across a range of provinces, territories, municipalities and Indigenous and private partners, with the aim of delivering infrastructure projects throughout Canada.

Montreal’s status as the key port of call serving the localised Quebec market, while also competing as an effective option for the US Midwest markets, will continue. The expansion of the VIAU terminal offers shorter-term expansion, with the Contrecoeur project taking another important step to fruition. The port remains well-placed to serve its customers well into the 21st Century.


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