Tanker traffic in Kitimat today

Author: Northern Gateway
Dated: 16 March 2012

You’ve heard them…the myths stridently stated by environmental activists:

  • Northern Gateway’s plan, including 220 crude tankers annually into a marine terminal in Kitimat, would be introducing tankers to the Douglas and Principe Channels.
  • Northern Gateway would represent an end to a tanker moratorium along B.C.’s north coast.
  • It’s not ‘if’ a spill happens, but ‘when’ a spill happens.

What these activists will not tell you is that there has been plenty of ship traffic in and out of Kitimat already—without a catastrophe they claim is inevitable.

According to numbers from the Port of Kitimat, not only have vessels carrying industrial products been travelling the channels safely for some 35 years, but so too have ships carrying petroleum products—like the one featured arriving in the Port of Kitimat through the Douglas Channel in the picture above.

In fact, some 1,560 vessels carrying methanol and condensate called on Kitimat port from 1982 to 2009 – that’s over 3,100 transits of vessels dedicated to the transport of petroleum products.

When you add vessel traffic of all industrial activity into Kitimat port, the number jumps to 6,112.

To be clear…the number of ships servicing industry arriving at Kitimat port between 1978 and 2009 is 6,112. That’s 12,224 transits!

When you add traffic related to proposed liquified natural gas projects out of the Kitimat region that number is certain to rise even higher.

Suddenly, Northern Gateway’s plan to introduce 220 ships into Kitimat annually is put into proper perspective.

With the kind of traffic already occurring, wouldn’t it make sense to introduce measures that would heighten safety for everyone?

Northern Gateway’s marine plans include navigational aids such as beacons, buoys and lights throughout the channel. There would also be an advanced radar system with Automatic Identification System. The plan includes tethered tugboat escorts that have emergency response capabilities.

Northern Gateway would add additional emergency response equipment that will exceed regulation and will be available to all marine traffic in the event of an incident.

If a spill were to take place, emergency response personnel and equipment will be located at the Kitimat marine terminal and along the vessel routes to ensure the fastest response time possible.

Northern Gateway’s claim that our plan would enhance safety for all vessel traffic was recently independently verified. The TERMPOL report, led by Transport Canada and including input from Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Pacific Pilotage Authority Canada was filed with the National Energy Board regulators as part of the Joint Review Panel process.

Check out the video below to see our safety measures in action, and as always, give us your thoughts in the comments section:

Post your comment

All comments are moderated, not based on their opinion, but on the presentation of fact-based and constructive dialogue and compliance with our terms and conditions.
  • Northern Gateway, Feb 19th, 2013 (2 years ago)

    Hi Sara, thanks for your comment and questions.

    The numbers we've used in our application to the NEB and on this website have come from the Marine Communications and Transportation Services branch of the Canadian Coast Guard and from other sources like port data kept by the Kitimat Port.

    One reason why the numbers we've used differ from the numbers you've quoted stems from the date range—31 years in our case versus 20 years for the Kitimat website.

    Excluding the Northern Gateway project, other commercial proposals for Kitimat are forecasted to increase traffic by the following amounts:

    • 8 ships per month to the Sandhill Project: http://bit.ly/xxlANt
    • 13 LNG tankers per month to Kitimat LNG: http://bit.ly/xnfcko
    • 2 ships per month are forecast to visit Rio Tinto Alcan, post modernization: http://bit.ly/ySBoHQ

    Other LNG projects are also proposed for Kitimat, including BC LNG: http://bit.ly/wGQj8C

    On average Northern Gateway expects 18 tankers per month to call at the Kitimat Terminal.

    Historically, ship calls to Kitimat peaked at close to 23 per month in the 1990’s.

    When you consider NGP-related marine traffic to current BC north coast traffic, the increase is approximately 2-3% annually.

    Enbridge transparently reports its integrity record on its Corporate Social Responsibility website http://csr.enbridge.com

  • Sara, Feb 18th, 2013 (2 years ago)

    On the Kitimat website: http://www.kitimat.ca/EN/main/business/invest-in-kitimat/port-of-kitimat/export-economy.html
    It states that 4300 deep sea vessels have moved in and out of port in the last 20 years. That works out to 215 vessels per year. I'm not sure where you got your numbers from but they seem a bit off!! You state that the pipeline will bring in 220 tankers which would more than double the amount previously. Also, do you have any publicly available data on the number of spills Enbridge has dealt with in the past? I assume the company is not 100% spill free?

  • Northern Gateway, Feb 06th, 2013 (2 years ago)

    Hi Megan, thanks for your comment.

    This blog post outlines the current marine vessel traffic situation in Kitimat. We recognize there are significant adverse consequences to the environment when a marine oil spill occurs--this is why we've put forth comprehensive, world-class marine safety and emergency response plans to protect the environment.

  • Megan, Feb 04th, 2013 (2 years ago)

    You can't arbitrarily add all industrial vessels to strengthen your argument, you should only be concerned with those carrying oil. Providing the fact the a spill has not occurred in Kitimat yet is also a juvenile statement. There have been spills along transit routes that would be followed from Kitimat. In this article you portray oil shipment as trivial, however in longer reports and sections of your website you admit the adverse and potentially nonrecoverable effects an oil spill could have on the BC coastline. Funny how you neglect that information here/in shorter sections.

  • Northern Gateway, Oct 18th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    Hi Clara, thanks for your comment and question. We posted this information a couple of pages into the comments on this post some time ago, we'll repost it again here for your easy reference:

    On average we expect 18 tankers per month to call at the Kitimat Terminal.

    Over the past decade approximately 25 ships per month visited the Rio Tinto Alcan, Methanex and Eurocan facilities in Kitimat. Eurocan ceased operation in 2010 and is now owned by Rio Tinto Alcan. Excluding the Northern Gateway project, other commercial proposals for Kitimat are forecasted to increase traffic by the following amounts:

    • 8 ships per month to the Sandhill Project: http://bit.ly/xxlANt
    • 13 LNG tankers per month to Kitimat LNG: http://bit.ly/xnfcko
    • 2 ships per month are forecast to visit Rio Tinto Alcan, post modernization: http://bit.ly/ySBoHQ

    Other LNG projects are also proposed for Kitimat, including BC LNG: http://bit.ly/wGQj8C

    Ships using BC coastal waters, which would include the channel entrances into Kitimat, are required to call into the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services and in many cases are also required to use professional BC Coast Pilots to ensure safe navigation. These two programs combined ensure safety of in-transit navigation. All commercial ships are radar equipped and Northern Gateway will work with the ports, the Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada and other willing port users to enhance the north coast radar system to make the area safer for all shipping.

    We do not expect the increase in NGP-related and LNG-related tanker traffic to cause congestion in the port that can’t be managed through adherence to Canadian regulations for collision avoidance and typical port management planning.

  • Clara Kang, Oct 18th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    The numbers you have provided on current traffic are accummulation over 27 ~ 31 years. A simple distribution of 12,224 visits over 31 years gives me annual visits of 394. If we were to add the projected 220 ships, that's more than 50% increase in traffic. Do you have a different number?

  • Northern Gateway, Jul 30th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    Hi Christopher, thanks for your question.

    Kitimat is the preferred site for the Northern Gateway Pipeline marine terminal. That route is the basis of our application, currently before the Joint Review Panel. Our studies indicated that the pipeline route to Prince Rupert would be more challenging from an engineering and environmental perspective. However, we will take another look at alternate routes if we are asked (by the regulator). We will do whatever we can to find the best solution for Canada.

  • Christopher Rickwood, Jul 27th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    Why does the Northern Gateway pipeline terminate in Kitimat instead of Prince Rupert? Was Prince Rupert considered as the termination location? If so, why was it rejected?

  • Northern Gateway, Jul 18th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    Hi Ron, thanks for your comment and feedback.

    In the case the responsible party is the marine terminal owner/operator, Northern Gateway would accept full responsibility for all for the costs related to the emergency response and for any property damage as a result of the spill.

    In the event of a spill at the marine terminal, Northern Gateway would fairly review and cover claims for losses.

    For spills originating from a ship, the ship owner would be responsible. Under Canadian law and international conventions, ship owners are required to carry insurance to cover spill damages. In addition, shippers of oil pay into international and Canadian pollution funds to cover the costs of spills over and above insured losses. It would apply to shipping to and from ports in all areas of Canada, including Atlantic Canada, and Quebec.

    Canada has looked at this and recently increased the amount available to $1.33 billion an amount determined by nations around the world to be appropriate and sufficient to cover the costs of most, if not all types of oil spill events. If Parliament decides that greater coverage is required, that adjustment can be made via the Canadian Ship-sourced Oil Pollution fund, a fund that has rarely been called upon in Canada given the excellent record of the shipping industry on both of our coasts.

    In the event of a spill from a ship, Northern Gateway would liaise with the community and the pollution fund administrators to make sure that those losses are also fairly reviewed and covered. Together with our Community Advisory Board, we would take the lead in making sure that people are fairly dealt with and have access to the funds that have been set up to deal with ship-sourced pollution events.

  • ronb, Jul 18th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    Hi...good film...and looks like good safety procedures...just wondering though, if there is an accident or marine spill, is this the liability of Enbridge, or whoever owns the oil?

1 2 3 next »

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments

Share this page