By Tom Peters

While there have been no shovels put into the ground yet, developers of the proposed marine container terminals for the Port of Sydney, Cape Breton (Novaporte) and at Melford on the Strait of Canso, continue to work behind the scenes to advance their projects. In both cases, proponents say all they need to start actual construction is to have a major shipping line sign a long-term contract that would guarantee a minimum number of containers to move over the terminals annually.

Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP) is the promoter and developer of the Sydney project which includes a terminal capable of handling the largest container ships, a logistics park and an on-dock rail facility. It recently announced that as a component of Novaporte’s green design strategy, the Port and adjacent logistics park, Novazone, will be the greenest facilities of their kind in the world, with a carbon neutral footprint.

SHIP, which signed a new financing agreement earlier this year with private equity firm Avaio Capital of New York, said in a release the green design is under the direction of AECOM, one of the world’s largest infrastructure engineering firms. A critical part of this strategy calls for the establishment of a park within a park (NOVARe) dedicated to nurturing and commercializing the latest green technologies. “Our goal is to provide the green fuels, energy, lubricants and other products, as well the supporting infrastructure that our shipping, ro-ro and bulk partners require,” said SHIP’s CEO Albert Barbusci.

SHIP said several green technology companies will be located in NOVARe with the first being Quad City Innovations, LLC, (QCI) a Michigan-based company involved in transforming waste plastic into green renewable energy, fuels and other byproducts. QCI has developed three technologies to process nearly 100 per cent of municipal solid waste, waste plastic, scrap tires and rubber waste streams. QCI’s can process large quantities of plastic and other solid waste into sulfur-free, carbon-free, renewable fuels suitable for use in current gasoline and diesel vehicles, locomotives, ships and other conventional diesel and gasoline industrial applications.

“NOVARe is the ideal location for our waste plastics-to-fuel conversion industry. It gives us the opportunity to process waste streams from many regions delivered by ship, rail or road transportation,” QCI’s CEO Dean Rose said in a release. “Additionally, it allows us to export our renewable fuels and chemicals via the same network,” he said. Barbusci said in a recent statement that QCI could be operational in Sydney within two years.

However, one of the key supporting elements in SHIP’s terminal project, the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway, may be facing a challenge in coming months. The Nova Scotia government has been paying railway owner Genesee & Wyoming up to $60,000 a month for operating expenses as part of an agreement not to abandon a section of the line from St. Peter’s Junction to Sydney. The agreement expires in March and the province will make a decision in December on whether or not to extend it.

The province wanted the line to stay operation-ready in case the terminal was built. Barbusci said in an email that SHIP is still working on an agreement with a shipping line and “I’m confident that we will be done before the provincial deadline.”

At Melford, near Port Hawkesbury, N.S., developers Melford International Terminal Ltd. contracted Port Hawkesbury Paper this summer to clear over 600 acres of the proposed terminal site, said Richie Mann, Melford’s Vice-President, Marketing. “Also, we have engaged an engineering firm, Berger Abam, of Seattle, to redesign Phase 1 for optimum efficiency and cost,” he added. Mann said construction of the rail line that would connect the terminal to the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway and the first phase of the logistics park is intended to commence simultaneously with terminal construction.

“Melford continues to be recognized as an ideal location for a modern-day, container terminal,” Mann said in an email. “The natural advantages, coupled with the ability to overcome many of the challenges faced by existing terminals in North America, provides the basis for industry interest. The ever-increasing prevalence of large vessels (now many 22,000-23,000 TEU size in service and on order) is presenting significant landside issues at many ports. Melford, which will be purpose-built to accommodate large vessels, will eliminate many of the issues,” he said. “Discussions continue with major lines and the proponents remain optimistic with respect to developing a world class container terminal at Melford,” he added.