The proposed deepwater terminal at Port of Sydney, Nova Scotia has secured a powerful sponsor: Ports America, the largest U.S. terminal operator with assets in Baltimore, PNY&NJ, Norfolk, Los Angeles and Houston, among many other locations.
Novaporte, as the developers call the facility, would be designed to handle vessels of more than 18,000 TEU.
No container vessels of this size have ever called at East Coast ports, most of which have draft or air draft limitations which would prevent them from accommodating the world's largest vessels (at least without major infrastructure investments). Many ports that have recently completed dredging projects would still be unable to accommodate fully loaded ultra large container vessels, the largest of which draw several feet more than the common 50-foot target depth.
Novaporte already has a long string of prominent partners. Montreal-based Canderel Group would develop the adjacent logistics park. Bechtel, a large U.S. engineering and construction company, is involved in planning. China Communications Construction Company, one of the world's largest construction firms, has agreed to provide design and construction of all aspects of the container terminal (including cranes). Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretian has been hired as an international advisor.
Peter Ford, Ports America's chief strategy officer, said that the port would have multiple advantages over its southern competitors. "Geographically, it [would be] the first stop for vessels on the Great Circle Route from Europe and Asia via the Suez. It has abundant land, an adjacent 1,200-acre logistics park and is located in a foreign trade zone. Add to that abundant power, road and rail, as well as a skilled work force, and you have the makings of an East Coast gateway for the next generation of super ships," Ford said.
The port's developers say that all permits, First Nations agreements and environmental permits are already in place. In addition, local unions have made an agreement in principle that there will be no labor disputes during construction.
Regional ports competition heats up
Novaporte is not the only megaport proposal moving forward in Nova Scotia. The Port of Melford, along with partners SSA Marine, would like to build a 315-acre container terminal with 65 feet of harbor depth, ideal for ULCVs.
"We believe Melford, with its . . . ability to reduce delivery time to U.S. and Canadian markets by two to six days . . . excellent workforce and private ownership combines all the beneficial attributes to quickly establish itself as the pre-eminent first port of call for North America,” said SSA Marine President Mark Knudsen, said in a release earlier this year.