2012 part 2- From sea to sea to sea

Continue from 2012 part 1 of 3- Got Skills?

Although trade numbers were generally up around the ports and seaways in 2011, there is a generalized unease about life across Canada, and in particular around the world. We are seeing lots of “established” ideas turn on their heads. This will continue to put strain on our “mental” comfort levels, but the marine industry I think, will continue a sure footed recovery, if not stay the same.

In Canada, the central region, Great Lakes and the St Lawrence, remain a well established centre of shipping in Canada; it’s the largest consumer of mariners, and growing. The dry bulk sector in particular, just seems to keep all the ships hopping with plenty of cargo. CSL and Algoma are at the starting point of an introduction of new ships to their fleets – 6 for CSL, 8 for Algoma. Mostly to absolutely needed renewal, but also some new additional tonnage to the Canadian trade. Desgagnes on the other hand, has introduced new tonnage, but is still running into issues with older tonnage.

The Canadian East Coast remains a steady employer of mariners with offshore oil and gas industry maturing. The employment market though remains comfortably closed to pretty much all non locals, a distinct trait of this market, not shared by other areas of Canada. Fishing remains a sputtering business of this area, but manpower for this sector is short due to the good wages offered by the oil and gas people.

The big talk from the government over the Arctic has died down considerably this year. Instead, industry seems to be doing most of the talking there, with what seems to be busy seasons for cargo ships. The continuing drama overat NTCL, in the Western Arctic, is of interest. Meanwhile the Eastern Arctic seems to be very busy with Woodwards, NEAS and Desgagnes, among others making good seasons there. There were several incidents in 2011 that highlight some major gaps in services in the north, and I suspect these will increase as shipping picks up even more in this area. The Mackenzie Valley pipeline project‘s future might be muddy, but there is certainly many reverb of industrial activity in the great north which will impact us mariners.

The West Coast saw a considerable busy year, thanks to wood product exports to China. Major changes in the tug business on the coast have given way to new players and many working in different ways. The BC North Coast will be the place to watch in the coming years. Kitimat and Prince Rupert are both going “gung ho” as far as shipping is concerned. Unfortunately, the Canadian exports and imports are sadly nowhere near being transported by Canadian mariners, but the support industry – tugs – will be certainly be a bright spot.

The LNG project in Kitimat, and the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline both have the possibility of major impacts on professional mariners on this coast – in particular the need of at least two or three large escort tugs. Prince Rupert continues to see growth everywhere it looks, so too the support industry there is taking firmer wins.

to be continued… 2012 part 3 – Big plans (last part)

This is a 3 part series, examining my expectations for the Canadian marine
industry in 2012, as it affects us marine engineers, and other professional
seafarers. It is based on feedback,
discussions from my websites, real world observations and discussions,
and media reports.  

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