Nova Scotia Mega-Ports Move Forward

Sydney
Port of Sydney, Nova Scotia (file image)

By Tom Peters 2016-07-14 14:19:07

Plans to develop two major container terminals in Nova Scotia, on Canada’s East Coast, are slowly moving forward.

Harbour Port Development Partners (HPDP) of Sydney, Nova Scotia have plans to develop a terminal and logistics park in the Port of Sydney, while another group has been working for the past 10 years to develop a terminal and a several hundred acre logistics park in Melford, about 150 miles northeast of Halifax.

While signing a major cargo carrier to a long term commitment remains the main stumbling block to a construction start at Melford, Melford International Terminal and Cyrus Capital Partners announced in early July that they have signed an agreement with SSA Marine of Seattle to be the terminal operator. Melford spokesman Richie Mann said in an email that SSA Marine had also made “an investment” in the project with an opportunity to invest further “going forward.”  No amount was disclosed.

SSA Marine is not a stranger to Melford. The company was involved with the project in its early stages but pulled its support during the recession in 2008-2009. SSA's re-entry into the project comes only months after Maher Terminals dropped out when its parent company, Deutsche Bank, sold the Maher Terminal operations in Port Elizabeth, NJ and Prince Rupert, BC.

The 315-acre Melford terminal, when constructed, will become the closest major North American port to Europe. A great circle sailing from Gibraltar to Melford is hundreds of nautical miles shorter than an equivalent sailing from Gibraltar to New York – putting Melford closer to the Suez Canal and the sea route to Asia. The terminal is specially designed to accommodate Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCV) for both transshipment throughout North America’s East Coast and intermodal service to Eastern Canada and U.S. markets through a connection to the Canadian National (CN) rail system.

“We have spent considerable effort over the years examining terminal opportunities on the East Coast of North America and we believe Melford, with its 20 meters of draft and the ability to reduce delivery time to U.S. and Canadian markets by two to six days  via a local rail connection to the CN network, 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.” SSA Marine President Mark Knudsen, said in a release.

The Sydney project has a number of hurdles to clear before it is shovel ready.

The development would consist of a semi-automated, container terminal called Novaporte and a 1,250-acre logistics park called Novazone. The logistics park would be located in a Foreign Trade Zone and adjacent Novaporte. Montreal-based Canderel Group, a partner in the Novazone project, will develop the logistics park in three phases. Bechtel, a large U.S. engineering and construction company, has been involved with the project for several months and HPDP has also engaged former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretian as an international advisor.

The main focus of the terminal is to be a transshipment hub and attract container ships with capacities of 14,000 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) and up.  Estimated cost of entire project, when completed, is $1.6 billion. 

China Communications Construction Company, (CCCC) the world’s largest port construction and design firm and a possible equity partner in the project, is presently carrying out an extensive study to determine if the project is actually feasible. The results of the study are expected this summer.