By Tom Peters

Icelandic shipping line Eimskip is increasing its service through the Port of Halifax by nearly 60 per cent, says Jeff Simms, Managing Director, Eimskip Canada, Inc. Simms says Eimskip will increase its calls into Halifax from 21 to 35 annually. The increase has been generated by an increase in business through Portland, Me.

Eimskip’s Green Line, which calls North America, channels cargo from Portland, Halifax and Argentia (Nfld) through Reykjavik where it will be now transloaded for markets in Europe, Greenland, Norway and the Faroe Islands.

Prior to this schedule change, cargo loaded in North America stayed on the same vessel to its final destination. By transloading in Reykjavik, Eimskip has been able to reduce the number of ships to two, the 700-TEU vessels Reykjafoss and Skogafoss, from three, and has also provided more time to increase the calls at the three North American ports.

“We had to have more capacity on the North America route so we had to change the schedule,” said Simms. “We had three vessels that were calling Rotterdam, through to Portland. Now we will transship cargo in Reykjavik. We now have two vessels on rotation through Newfoundland, Halifax and Portland which has freed up time for more calls,” he said. Eimskip will now have two calls every three weeks on a regular rotation through Halifax.

Eimskip’s U.S. business has been strong through Portland. Eimskip calls to Portland, and also Argentia, will increase from 31 to 35.

Simms said there is considerable cargo traffic with Iceland from Portland. “We still compete in Portland with New York and Boston but right now we are the only international carrier in the New England area,” he said. Eimskip moved to Portland about three years ago and has been working with the State of Maine to develop the port. ”We are developing acreage for laydown areas,” and there a possibility of a coal storage facility.There is a lot of customer base in that area and another possibility is a short sea operation between Portland and Halifax,” he said. In the meantime, Simms said the company will now focus attention on building more cargo through Halifax.

“We see more growth opportunities through the port of Halifax than we do out of Newfoundland and Labrador due to the current economy (in NL),” said Simms. “Our focus in Canada, in terms of our office, is to be really aggressive in the Halifax market. We see cargoes that are suited to our trade lanes and niche ports. We carry to Iceland, the Faroes, Greenland and Norway, and in all those niche areas that we sail to, we can see substantial opportunity out of Halifax,” he said, plus Eimskip will continue to offer Halifax another service to Europe and Rotterdam. Simms said the company’s long term goal would be to have a weekly service through Halifax.

The changes to the Green Line service are all part of major changes to a number of service routes Eimskip has to various ports in Europe and Scandinavia. The changes have been caused by an overall increase in business which the company anticipates will continue at a 7-11 per cent rate.

“These changes in Eimskip’s sailing schedule will strengthen the whole system and our services,” Eimskip’s President and CEO Gylfi Sigfusson, said in a release. “There has also been increased growth in the countryside here in Iceland and we will therefore start offering again weekly coastal services. The changes further increase Eimskip’s growth opportunities in the company’s market areas in the North Atlantic and the development ahead of the ports in Reykjavík, Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands and Nuuk in Greenland which will enable larger vessels to serve in the area, but larger vessels will lead to more efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly transport,” he said.