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Craig Bell Estabrooks, the president and CEO of Port Saint John, speaks during the organization's annual general meeting on June 5, 2024. Image: Brad Perry

Port Saint John CEO reflects on ‘foundational’ 2023

By Brad Perry Jun 5, 2024 | 3:00 PM

The president and CEO of Port Saint John says 2023 was a foundational year for the organization.

Craig Bell Estabrooks made the comments following the port’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

“This was a year that in a rough global climate for containerized movement, we still succeeded,” Bell Estabrooks told reporters.

“You’re going to have ups, you’re going to have downs, you’re going to have recessions, you’re going to have growth. But if we can be that resilient port that continues to prove the model works in tough years, to me, that’s everything.”

Saint John was the only Canadian port to see an increase in container traffic last year, according to Bell Estabrooks.

A total of 153,454 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) moved through the port, a year-over-year increase of more than 3,200.

The increase was considerably smaller than the 63,000 TEU jump the port recorded the previous year.

Bell Estabrooks said the 2022 increase coincided with container line Hapag-Lloyd adding a second weekly service to Saint John.

“If another line or an existing line added another service or kind of looks at their network and adds Saint John as a port of call to an existing service, you could see that big leap again,” he said.

Bell Estabrooks said they are on track for more growth this year, with container traffic already up more than 25 per cent.

The continued growth comes as Port Saint John completed its $205-million west side modernization project in 2023, which saw its laydown capacity more than double to 325,000 TEUs.

DP World, which operates the container terminal in Saint John, also added two additional cranes for a total of four.

Work continues on phase two of the modernization project which will increase the port’s laydown capacity to 800,000 TEUs by 2025.

Other highlights for Port Saint John in 2023 include potash movement nearly doubling to more than 2.2 million metric tonnes and revenue reaching a record $29.9 million.

“I think it’s that we’ve got all the right partners,” Bell Estabrooks said when asked about the port’s success. “Everyone’s rowing in the same direction, they know what the opportunity is.”