CWB’s chosen suitor weighs West Coast terminal idea

Western Stevedoring’s Lynnterm Terminal, shown here, is now the subject of a feasibility study as the possible site of a new export terminal for Prairie grain. (Colin Jewell photo courtesy Port Metro Vancouver)

The new Prairie grain player tapped to take a majority stake in the former Canadian Wheat Board is now considering the possibility of its own port terminal.

Bunge Canada and Saudi-owned crown corporation SALIC Canada, in their joint venture G3 Global Holdings, have agreed to a separate joint venture with West Coast port logistics firm Western Stevedoring Co. for a feasibility study on a new export grain terminal.

“The planned combination of CWB and Bunge’s Canadian grain assets will provide a highly competitive eastern footprint,” G3 CEO Karl Gerrand said Tuesday in a release. “We now are looking west to determine whether this is the right time and location to take the next step.”

The terminal, if feasible, would be built on port space Western Stevedoring now leases from Port Metro Vancouver for its Lynnterm West Gate facility.

The Lynnterm Terminal, on the north shore of Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, includes West Gate and East Gate facilities, which today provide a total of seven berths with total length of 4,974 feet, and 50-foot depth alongside at low water.

The facilities on the sites today include eight warehouses designed for storage of forest products (lumber, pulp, paper), steel and “general cargo,” plus equipment to handle and stuff and destuff cargo containers.

Lynnterm has direct service through Canadian National Railway (CN) and nine kilometres of track serving its facilities; it also has interchanges with “all major railways” and is “minutes away” from the Trans-Canada Highway.

However, the head of Quorum Corp., the contractor handling grain transportation monitoring on behalf of the federal government, told Reuters on Tuesday that a new grain terminal in that area could further tighten an existing rail bottleneck.

The North Shore alone is already home to the Richardson International and Cargill grain terminals, as well as Neptune Bulk Terminals, which handles crops and other bulk commodities, plus four other bulk terminal operations.

If a new terminal in that area were to move six million tonnes of grain per year, Mark Hemmes told Reuters correspondent Rod Nickel, that would mean two more trains per day going through a single tunnel and bridge across Burrard Inlet to reach the North Shore.

In all, Port Metro Vancouver’s terminals handled 19.62 million tonnes of grains, specialty crops and livestock feed in 2014, up 22 per cent from 2013.

Gerrand, in a Bunge release, said a “number of matters” will need to be resolved and permitting issues must be considered before a decision is made whether to move such a project ahead.

G3 and Western Stevedoring also believe “an open relationship with First Nations and the community is critical to the long-term success of the project,” he added.

If the two companies decide to move ahead with the project, they said they’ll make an announcement “at the appropriate time.”

G3 was named in April as the successful investor to take a 50.1 per cent interest in the grain handler now branded CWB. The remaining stake in CWB is to be held by a farmers’ trust, though G3 holds an option to buy out the trust’s stake as early as 2022.

G3’s $250 million investment in CWB still needs to get a favourable ruling from the federal Competition Bureau and meet other conditions, all expected sometime next month. — Network


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