Montreal has decided to turn to its existing two container terminal operators to develop a new container facility at Contrecour.
“Following a fifth consecutive year in 2018 of record tonnage handled at the Port of Montreal, and the likelihood of similar anticipated growth in the coming years, the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) has decided to work in priority with its terminal operators, Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership (MGTP) and Termont Montreal Inc., to accelerate the execution of its business strategy for its container terminal project at Contrecoeur,” the MPA said in a statement.
"In 2018, we handled a record 1.67 million containers [TEU], a 9% increase compared to 2017. We are experiencing this growth with our partners, the operators and the shipping lines serving their respective terminals. We have decided to preferentially offer these operators the opportunity to pursue their growth at Contrecoeur," said MPA President and CEO Sylvie Vachon.
The surge has not been without problems: this month CMA CGM announced an “Emergency Surcharge” of US$300 per reefer container due to the "significant increase of dwell time incurred for putting Import Reefer containers on rail via the port of Montreal (Montreal Gateway)”. CMA CGM cited “unprecedented reefer volumes coming into Montreal combined with powerpack shortage and winter conditions which are also contributing to this congestion”.
Developing a new terminal at Contrecoeur, which is on the other side and further down the St Lawrence River than the existing container terminals, will require careful integration with the existing rail network. Montreal’s decision to let its incumbent terminal operators expand at Contrecoeur will allow a coordinated approach to the intermodal exchange, which has always been vital to Montreal.
Expanding Contrecoeur to handle containers has been discussed for several years. The capacity of the port’s existing terminals is an estimated 2.1M TEU and with the current growth the MPA wants to push the project forward now. "The increasing presence of international shipping lines in the Greater Montreal area means that we better expand in the Port of Montreal. For us, the growth and the future of the container handling markets depends on the Contrecoeur project," said Michael Fratianni, President and CEO of Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership.
"We are pleased and committed to working closely with the Port of Montreal to develop the Port’s additional container handling capacity at Contrecoeur. With the phenomenal growth of traffic on our terminals, we cannot fail to support the Port’s strategy to rapidly increase its handling capacity," said Madeleine Paquin, President of Termont Montreal Inc.
"The Port of Montreal is uniquely positioned by its proximity to the markets of Quebec, Ontario and the US Midwest, and provides a world-class intermodal system. We are very pleased that Montreal has such a promising project to increase its capacity. For us, this project will enable us to continue the significant growth of our services in Montreal," added Sokat Shaikh, President and CEO of MSC Canada.
The MPA now has a dedicated team in place for this project, headed by Ryan Dermody, Vice-President, Contrecoeur and newly hired Christine Roy as Project Manager."Our top priorities are to complete the project’s engineering planning and financial structure pending the environmental licensing process. Conducting this project with the greatest respect to our natural environment remains a cornerstone of our approach," said Sylvie Vachon.