A proposed expansion at a major employer in Port Moody is moving full-steam ahead.
Officials with Pacific Coast Terminals say the port company has inked a deal to handle canola oil for Bunge Canada. The deal will see PCT handle 400,000 tons of the food-grade oil from the American-based company to start, and 750,000 tons in future years.
Ken Catton, PCT's vice-president and general manager, said the deal is a big step for the company in the face of declining sulphur volumes.
"It's critical for us that we do diversify our products to continue to operate on a financially sound basis," he told the Tri-Cities NOW. The terminal currently handles shipments of sulphur and ethylene glycol.
As part of the expansion, PCT has submitted a permit application to Port Metro Vancouver. PCT is looking at building three new 15,000-ton storage tanks to handle the oil. The company also wants to modify existing unloading racks and build a new loading arm and pipeline to feed vessels at the terminal.
If the permit is granted, Catton said construction would start this fall, with the canola side of the business ready by August 2014.
Catton said PCT intends to put a boom around the vessels to capture and clean up any oil in case of a spill. The company has also applied for a permit to dredge a portion of the navigation channel beside the marina.
Catton explained the shallow area restricts movement of fully loaded vessels through the channel, but suggested dredging would allow safe navigation at any time. The plan is to dredge the material and move it over to a deeper part of the water near PCT's terminal.
Catton said the project is important both because sulphur vessels are hampered by the shallow area, which costs PCT money and isn't very safe, and for the expansion so any future customers won't be hampered by the restriction.
He also suggested the project would have an environmental benefit because the dredging would raise the sea floor closer to sunlight, creating more habitat in the ocean. PCT said the canola expansion will cost about $35 million and create 15 jobs. Catton also estimated the expansion will bring in another $400,000 in taxes to city coffers.
"I think it's positive for us and the community," he said.
In the meantime, PCT will hold an open house on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Old Mill Boathouse.
While the canola agreement is moving ahead, PCT is still waiting to sign a deal for an even bigger expansion. It's looking at handling 2.8 million tons of potash and spending $125 million to expand its current operation to handle the product.
However, Catton said no deal is in place yet, and the earliest the potash would make its way through the terminal is 2016.
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