Since antiquity, ports have been centers of human activity. Today, these locations have evolved beyond their basic purpose of protection to sea-faring vehicles. Ports play a crucial role in the current economy by raking billions via international trade. 

Role of Ports

When transporting pipe cargo, these centers play a major role - from loading/unloading shipments to long-term product storage, ports offer all amenities. Many major locations even serve as convergence points for other modes of cargo transport.

For example, the Port of Vancouver is one of the busiest stations in North America. It can cover 28 deep sea and domestic marine terminals. Each is attached to a particular type of goods. For convenience, the port also has provisions facilitating intramodal transport. To ensure all cargo reaches its destination quickly, multiple train tracks and truck roads connect the Port of Vancouver to the main business centres in the region. 

Minor amenities like forklifts and cranes are a fixture of ports worldwide. However, ports offer more enhanced facilities to the incoming vessels. In addition to the easy loading/unloading, these locations also offer 

  • Specialized warehouses, with temperature and moisture control - to maintain cargo quality
  • Workshops - places for shipping vessels to find accessories, spare parts, and more.
  • Necessary infrastructure, including hospitals, hotels, and restaurants for the workers. 
  • Port reception - to check shipment and arrival/departure schedules for the port terminals. 

Type of Ports

Sea Ports 

The common and the largest of ports, these centers are used primarily for large cargo and other goods. These are built on the shore and can easily accommodate large vessels. Depending on the type of craft they house, these can be subdivided into cruise or cargo ports. 

When carrying pipe shipments, a cargo port is the most relevant one. These locations are also called breakbulk ports, container ports, or bulk ports due to the type of cargo received. Unlike cruise ports, these centers are built for convenience and accessibility. 

Cargo Port

A cargo port will house all the necessary equipment and infrastructure for loading and unloading. Machinery like hauling tools, draggers, trucks, cranes, and loading machines are common on these docks. Depending on the size and necessary infrastructure, these ports may house a single or several types of cargo. 

In addition, seaports also consist of smaller areas called ports of call. These locations serve as stopovers for shipping vessels to major centres. Here the craft may dock for some time for refuelling, repair, or rest. Minor cargo may also be dropped off at these points. 

Inland Port

Built for lesser traffic than seaports, inland ports are traditionally built on minor water bodies. Instead of seashores and coastlines, these centers are constructed along rivers and lakes. Sometimes, for easier access, they may be connected to the sea via a man-made canal. 

Port authorities may also construct inland ports to relieve traffic at major seaside ports. Some vessels are navigated to these inland locations to avoid holdups instead of being docked at the coastline. However, since the depth of these waterbodies is limited, only certain crafts can enter an inland port. Deep docking is not allowed at these places, with a preference for smaller vessels or ferries. 

Dry Ports

A port in name only, these locations are land-based terminals and facilities connected to the sea or inland ports via road or rail. Since they are connected to major shipping centers, dry ports help relieve traffic. In addition, a major port of intramodal logistics, including further processing, delivery assignment, and more, occurs at these centers. 

Port Authorities

For ports worldwide, a port authority is a body that builds and operates these business centers. Aside from overlooking the trade and management, these bodies act as a mediator with the federal authorities to law down the fees and fines attached to port use. 

Depending on the country, the port authorities may be full government-back or semi-governmental agencies. For example, according to Canadian legislation, a major chunk of the port duties in the country is under the purview of the Canada Port Authorities. 

Despite being a Canadian body, the CPA is not completely under the federal government. Because of this partial autonomy, it also does not receive funding from the federal government even if the CPA runs into issues with operating expenses and revenue deficits. 

Federal or Non-Federal

Instead of a federal official governing its move, the Canada Port Authorities elect its directors. The board of the CPA is selected by a body comprising government officials, municipality members, and port residents/users/workers. This board of directors is responsible for leading the CPA through trying financial times.

However, this body can find other sources to back its venture because of its autonomy. Capital for the CPA comes primarily from commercial partnerships. The directors may have agreements with private-sector industries and firms. The association can apply for federal grants or get loans from banks in emergencies. 

Responsibilities of Port Authorities 

The Canadian Port Authorities fulfils several crucial responsibilities in Canadian ports, including 

  • Maintainance of commercial shipping channels - tasks include regular cleanups, dredging, repair work, and more.
  • Manage port operations, oversee leases, port activities, and commercial transactions
  • Set port fees and fines for wharf and port use based on a fair system
  • Oversee port management, including project pitching, construction, business venture, necessary establishments, and more. 

The federal government currently recognizes 16 port authorities in Canada. In British Columbia, including

  • Prince Rupert Port Authority
  • Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
  • Port Alberni Port Authority
  • Nanaimo Port Authority

Among these, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority holds the stewardship of the largest port in Canada. The Port of Vancouver is also the most diversified in North America, dealing in cargo and services like

  • Bulk cargo
  • Passenger cruise
  • Container ships
  • Automobile transport
  • Breakbulk, and project cargo

Annually, the Port of Vancouver is responsible for raking in $43 billion worth of goods. In addition, it services 76 million+ metric tonnes of cargo. Other major shipping docks include the Port of Prince Rupert, Port of Montreal, Port of Halifax, and Port of Saint John.