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Railways Publish Annual Grain Service Reports


On July 31 and August 1 respectively, Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) and Canadian National (CN) railways released their annual Grain Service Outlook Reports for the crop year 2023-2024.

These reports are an extension to the Canadian government’s mandate from 2014 that set out the minimum volumes of grain that have to be moved by CN and CP (now CPKC) to port each week. In addition to this, both railways are required to issue annual reports that provide an assessment of their plans and capabilities to transport grain for the upcoming crop year.

This year’s report is a first for the CPKC since their recent merger in April. CP’s acquisition of KCS has created the first transnational railway that provides a single-line connection between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. This rail network enables Canada’s grain shippers to access markets across North America, including new markets in Mexico, and enhanced routing options for shipping Canadian grain and grain products overseas. Additionally, CPKC has completed its more than $500 million investment to purchase 5,900 new higher-capacity grain hopper cars.

Some of the highlights from the CN plan include updates on some of their ongoing initiatives; the delivery of 750 new high-efficiency grain hopper cars in 2024, the expansion of CN’s locomotive modernization program to upgrade older Direct Current locomotives to the newer, more powerful and reliable Alternating Current technology, and a new Precision Dispatch System to help optimize train movement across the network.

For the full reports, see here: CN Rail & CPKC

Canadian Government Moves to Modernize Grain Act

Photo courtesy of The Official Handbook of Present Conditions and Recent Progress

Canada’s Agriculture Minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, intends to introduce legislation to modernize the Canada Grain Act by the end of 2023.The proposed changes aim to reflect current practices in the buying, selling, delivery, and handling of grain. The legislation is expected to address the problem of duplicate grain inspection fees, which currently burden grain producers. Overseas customers often demand third-party inspections both at the time of loading in Canada and offloading in their own countries. As a result, an estimated 70% of grain leaving Canadian ports is double-inspected, leading to unnecessary costs of approximately $60 million annually for growers. The Wheat Growers Association advocates for a system similar to the U.S. where third parties provide inspection services and the government’s role is reduced to oversight. Concerns have been raised about the impact on trade with China and Japan if Canada shifts to a third-party inspection system, but the association points out that these countries regularly purchase grain from the U.S., which employs such a system

Courtesy of Chamber of Shipping

Wolverine Terminals Bringing Bunkering to Prince Rupert

Photo courtesy of Wolverine Terminals

A first-of-its-kind bunker delivery service is coming to the Port of Prince Rupert. The service will enable vessels to take large volumes of bunkers alongside all of the port’s major terminals and in the inner anchorages.

Prince Rupert remains one of the few major global ports that does not offer refueling services for cargo vessels. Instead, vessels needing bunkers must deviate to the Port of Vancouver or further south, somewhere along the US West Coast.

The project, from Wolverine Terminals ULC, includes the construction of a specific use marine berth and specially designed rail and bunker delivery barges. The bunkers will be sourced from refineries in Western Canada and railed to Prince Rupert on an established rail network.

Wolverine will use the existing Aquatrain Terminal in Prince Rupert to receive the rail cars which will then be loaded on to their purpose-built rail barge. From there, the rail barge is towed approximately 400 metres to their new marine berth to meet up with the delivery barge. The fuel is then transferred from the rail to the distribution barge for delivery to vessels alongside or at anchorage.

Wolverine are currently targeting late 2023 to have the operation up and running.

Some key highlights of the project:

Bunker Barge
• Barge Storage Capacity: 10 heated, segregated tanks totaling: approximately 4500 MT (31kb), Installed Mass Flow Meters

• Est Pump Rates: LSMGO: 200mt/hr, VLSFO: 600mt/hr

The fuel distribution barge will have a capacity of approximately 4,500 metric tonnes and measure approximately 78 metres in length. The barge will be equipped with a deck mounted container with spill response equipment for rapid deployment. The fuel distribution barge will be a modern double-hulled vessel. Motorized engines will be designed to best industry standards to minimize noise and air emissions. The fuel tanks will meet the requirements set out in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), as well as Transport Canada regulations.

Rail Barge – Floating Storage
• Barge Storage Capacity: 12 heated segregated tanks totaling: ~12,500 MT (90kb). Installed Mass Flow Meters
• Products: LSMGO, VLFSO, capability to blend to customer specs

The barge is 142m in length and will be able to accommodate up to 24 rail tank cars on deck. The barge has a double hull with spill prevention under each rail car. Additionally, there will be a peripheral coaming surrounding the entire deck. There will also be spill response equipment on board, as well as a floating containment boom surrounding the barge. The rail barge also has the capability to blend multiple commodities to specification by use of 12 segregated tanks and a precise blending skid.

Distances from Wolverine’s marine berth to approved delivery locations:
1. DP World Container Port: 1.9km
2. Drax Wood Pellet Terminal: 0.4km
3. Prince Rupert Grain: 8km
4. AltaGas LPG/Trigon Coal: 9km
5. Inner Anchorages: 0.5km – 8km

Statistics courtesy of Wolverine Terminals

Echo Program is back!

Whale hello there!

The ECHO program is back for 2021. The decline of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population is linked to threats such as noise and disturbance from boats, and reduced availability of their preferred prey, chinook salmon, where wild populations of chinook salmon have declined dramatically in recent years. To address this, the Canadian government continue to implement and refine their management measures to not only protect chinook salmon in the area, a vital food source for Southern Resident killer whales, but also to minimize disturbance from all vessels transiting the area.

This  will include the annual voluntary slow down of commercial vessels transiting in bound from sea, through Haro Strait and Boundary Pass on route to Vancouver Harbour

For a comprehensive breakdown of the details, with maps, please have a look here.