By Tom Peters

The $65-million capital expenditure for the rejuvenation and expansion of Richmond Terminals at Port of Halifax is paying dividends sooner than anticipated. The new look terminal for breakbulk and general cargo was back in business in late 2014 and actually before the project was entirely completed, accepted its first cargo, some massive cranes from Houston for Halifax Shipyard. “We are pleased with the way this facility is finding its place in the market,” said Halifax Port Authority’s Patrick Bohan. “It is definitely lining up with the vision for it, and it is nice growth for our business.”

The terminal boosts 450 metres of new dock with 13.7 metre draft, 7,000 square metres of shed space and just over two hectares of laydown area. The facility has ondock rail and truck access.

Bohan, Director of Supply Chain Solutions, said the Port’s other major general cargo and breakbulk facility, Ocean Terminals, “is running at really good capacity and having this (Richmond) enables us to take on more business.”

One industry that has taken advantage of the facility has been ship repair. A number of vessels have berthed at the facility for repairs since its reopening, including the new Bay of Fundy ferry, vessels needing repair after issues with ice in the St. Lawrence, and some large Gearbulk vessels, as examples. “It is nice to be able to do that because it employs a lot of people locally. Companies spend a lot of money at the port doing these jobs and part of our mandate here is to create well-paying jobs for trades and the like,” said Bohan.

Halifax Port Authority President and CEO Karen Oldfield, in her mid-year report 2015, said Richmond was perfect for ship maintenance and repair work. Since it opened in October, 2014 until the end of June 2015, the terminal had 144 days of berth utilization. That trend has continued upward.

While offshore exploration struggles globally, Richmond has bucked that trend with a long-term contract as a shore base for Shell’s exploration program off Nova Scotia’s coast. “Richmond has been very busy with the Shell drilling program. Not only have cargo ships been bringing in drill pipe, casing and other components, we also have regular traffic of supply vessels running the closed loop to the drill ship,” Bohan said. British Petroleum is scheduled to begin its $1 billion exploration program off Nova Scotia next year which potentially offers more work for Richmond.

“The Shell program is providing evidence the terminal works very well and we anticipate it will work well for BP,” said Bohan, adding there was further good news for the offshore in November when Norwegian energy giant Statoil acquired licenses and said it plans to do exploration off Nova Scotia as well.

The Port Authority took part in a Halifax Gateway Council trade mission to the United Kingdom prior to Christmas. A free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union could take effect as early as the beginning of 2017, and open the door to an increase in cargo opportunities. Bohan said the message offered during discussions with potential customers in the UK was that Halifax, with its port assets, particularly Richmond and Ocean terminals, has the ability to be Canada’s breakbulk and general cargo gateway. “We have a long list of things we want to go after in Europe this year, and the trade mission helped us to identify those,” Bohan, said.