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Wood products from British Columbia traditionally have moved south to the United States by way of rail or truck, and to a lesser degree, by sea.

Now with the demand for British Columbia’s wood soaring in China, and drastically weakening in the U.S., lumber is hitting a transportation bottleneck at B.C.’s ports.

Vancouver and Prince Rupert both have lumber jamming up their ports, waiting for transportation to China. Half of the containers leaving Vancouver’s port are said to be filled with lumber or pulp.

This spring, four of British Columbia’s forest companies have partnered together to increase the volume of lumber being exported by jointly chartering a newly built cargo ship, The Cielo di San Francisco for the next year, as a transportation experiment.

The four companies partnering in the venture are:

  • Canfor
  • Tolko Industries
  • West Fraser Timber
  • Western Forest Products

It isn’t a new idea to own or charter an entire ship. MacMillan Bloedel used to own their own fleet of ships before containers became a more cost efficient method of transporting wood (in the 1990′s). Now, with containers become scarce, cargo ships may be considered a worthwhile investment again.

In January, International Forest Products Ltd. out of Vancouver bought full control of Seaboard Shipping Co., which owns two cargo ships and has contracts for others. The firm was created in 1936 to export B.C. wood.

The Cielo di San Francisco is scheduled to arrive in Vancouver on May 24th. Seven round trips are planned for the cargo ship over the next year. That would enable the four companies to ship a total of 175 million board feet of lumber to China – about 3% of the wood B.C. will send to China in 2011.

Read more:
B.C. foresters join forces to skirt port backlog (The Globe and Mail)


Extpub | by Dr. Radut