That ship has sailed

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The port of Corner Brook took another hit this week when the shipping firm Oceanex made a financial decision to withdraw from its marine shipping business.

The St. John’s-based company had already stopped using the city as a port of call for its container ships but had continued to use shore facilities on the waterfront while shipping containers by road from the capital.

Now all of that will cease to be used, staff will be laid off and Oceanex will serve its customers directly.

The company will continue to hold onto the port facilties, which it controls under lease.

Company CEO Capt. Sid Hynes says he can’t compete with Marine Atlantic, which is a federal Crown corporation and is subsidized by the federal government.

But that isn’t a new development and shouldn’t come as any surprise to the straight-talking Oceanex skipper.

What may be happening here is that business owners in this part of the island aren’t getting the kind of service they want from Oceanex and are looking for other methods of bringing goods to their loading docks.

Maybe having cargo come across the Gulf and trucked along the west coast is more convenient than having it shipped all the way to St. John’s by container ship, only to have it dragged 700 kilometres or more back across the island to customers.

Oceanex has quit using the port facilities, but now has it tied up with a lease, which means no other shipper can be sought by the port corporation to fill the void.

Nobody would expect Hynes and his firm to lose money moving goods to the west coast, but maybe some other shipper could make a go of it.

It’s just not prudent or productive to have these facilities sitting idle and rusting away through lack of use.

 

*** This editorial was written before the Corner Brook Port Corporation released information saying the port would not be tied up in a 35-year lease. It was printed the following day, without changes acknowledging the release of that lease information. ***

 

 

Organizations: Marine Atlantic

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Oh dear
    March 23, 2014 - 06:31

    Let's call it as it is - a bust. The port of Corner Brook was never going to work, what with the ice and everything. Not very good business sense from the start if you ask me. The blue elephant of a crane will sit there idle rusting as 8 people will now have to look for work, very sad indeed. About time people stopped making short sighted decisions that appear to be based on egos than actual business sense. If someone had even bothered to stick their head out of the office window it was plain to see that there are issues with the global economy which even at an elementary level equates into "watch out, be careful and don't spend too much as we live in uncertain times and anything can change at a moments notice". What is sad, is that it very much appears the port of Corner Brook did not look far enough ahead and took a major gamble, that quite obviously did not pay off. At the end of the day we are a large island with a small population. There are much better and more efficient ways of transporting goods rather than the romantic notion of shipping and ports which belong in the 1800's along with some of the decision making that took place here.

  • TEI
    March 21, 2014 - 12:21

    Looks like another uneducated editorial by the Editor or the Western newsletter. What is the motto at this newsletter - Make it up as you go.

  • Ira Gould
    March 20, 2014 - 11:16

    Source another shipping company to utilize the facility. China, Brazil, Norway & USA. The facility is available and ready for use. Imports & exports to Canada or USA.

  • Gerry Samms
    March 20, 2014 - 06:44

    Maybe Oceanex could give up it's lease at Corner Brook and enter into negotiations with the port of Port Aux Basques to utilize this harbour which is mainly ice free. Then trucking goods up the west coast in a more direct route instead of having goods trucked from St. John's for corner Brook and Port Aux Basques. I don't know if Marine Atlantic has total rights to the port of Port Aux Basques.

  • Capt Sid Hynes
    March 20, 2014 - 06:29

    Hello Editor, It is unfortunate that you did not take the time to get the facts regarding this issue. Oceanex DOES NOT have the port facilities tied up with a lease. It seems you and your local MP have difficulty letting the facts get in the way of a good story! I would suggest you contact the port authority or read the recent press release from the port which addresses the FACTS and the situation. All shipping companies and anyone else for that matter are free to use any part of the Corner Brook port and have been for a long time. For the past three years, Oceanex, as a private company, has spent considerable sums to develop business in the Corner Brook port, I pose a few questions for your consideration. Have you wondered why Marine Atlantic receives a subsidy from the Federal government (our tax dollars) to move 50% of the cargo that comes to Newfoundland from North Sydney (100 miles|)which is higher than Oceanex's freight revenue to move the other 50% 1500 miles (fromToronto/Montreal)? Have you wonder who benefits from this huge public tax payer subsidy? It is not the consumer since we all pay the same for goods in Newfoundland regardless how they arrive. Because Oceanex has 50% of the freight business and does not receive a subsidy, it must have competitive rates with the trucking and rail modes, otherwise it would not have any business. Do you know who is benefiting from this huge subsidy? it is not Newfoundlanders! Do you know what the National Transportation Policy, the Canadian Transportation Act or the Canadian Competition Act have to say about such activities? Find out these facts and you will have a good story!! Regards Sid Hynes

  • Capt Sid Hynes
    March 20, 2014 - 05:58

    Hello Editor, It is unfortunate that you did not take the time to get the facts regarding this issue. Oceanex DOES NOT have the port facilities tied up with a lease. It seems you and your local MP have difficulty letting the facts get in the way of a good story. I would suggest you contact the port authority or read the recent press release from the port which addresses the FACTS and the situation. All potential shippers are free to use any part of the port and have been for a long time. Regards Sid Hynes

  • Capt Sid Hynes
    March 20, 2014 - 05:58

    Hello Editor, It is unfortunate that you did not take the time to get the facts regarding this issue. Oceanex DOES NOT have the port facilities tied up with a lease. It seems you and your local MP have difficulty letting the facts get in the way of a good story. I would suggest you contact the port authority or read the recent press release from the port which addresses the FACTS and the situation. All potential shippers are free to use any part of the port and have been for a long time. Regards Sid Hynes