Icelandic shipping firm Eimskip increasing service through Halifax
Wednesday, 29 November THE CHRONICLE HERALD

Published November 29, 2017 - 7:33pm 
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The Selfoss ship will be making calls to the Port of Halifax starting Thursday. Ship owner Eimskip is an Icelandic based shipping company with headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland. (CONTRIBUTED)
Eimskip, an Iceland-based international shipping firm, is increasing the frequency of its service through Halifax.
The arrival of Eimskip’s ship Selfoss at the Halterm International Container Terminal on Thursday will mark the addition of a third vessel to their Green Line route, facilitating an increase to weekly calls through the Port of Halifax. The other Eimskip ships servicing the route are the Reykjafoss and Skogafoss.
Jeff Simms, managing director of Eimskip Canada, said the weekly service is an increase from the previous schedule of three callings every five weeks. The route connects Reykjavik, Iceland with Argentia, N.L., Halifax and Portland, Maine, in addition to seasonal service to St. Anthony, N.L.
“About two years ago, we had a goal to go into weekly calling (frequency) within a four-year period,” Simms said on Wednesday. “Now we bumped that up significantly, so we’re two years ahead of schedule from where we intended to be.
“Back in 2015, we only had 13 calls per year in Halifax and most of all the cargo that was coming back and forth to Halifax on those calls was Iceland trade, meaning cargo going back and forth between Halifax and Iceland. In 2016, we bumped that up to 21 calls per year. In 2017, that went to 33 calls per year and now, I guess the first landing of the vessel, which will be (Thursday) in Halifax, will mark the first time we’ve ever had a weekly service in North America and Halifax in particular.”
Simms said cargo volumes have been growing substantially, especially out of Portland and Halifax, making it necessary to add to the services.
“The one hurdle that we have is that Halifax is an extremely competitive port,” Simms said. “When we were only calling three callings out of every five weeks — trying to compete with lines that were weekly — that was quite difficult for us on major trade lanes like Rotterdam or to Bremerhaven or Antwerp or those areas. But now that we’ve moved into a weekly calling, that puts us on the same competitive line as all the other carriers would be.”
He also cited the relatively small size of Eimskip’s vessels. Selfoss has a capacity of 750 TEU (the size of a standard 20-foot shipping container) and 120 reefer plugs for refrigerated cargo. So when demand and volume increases, it has a bigger effect on smaller ships.
“The reason for the extra callings, I guess, is just for the lack of capacity that we had on our existing vessels. We actually grew out of space on the vessel. We
couldn’t grow any more, especially on the import, so we had to make the move into making weekly callings.”
Simms said the company’s vision for the future would be to increase the size of the vessels at some point, “because you really don’t go more frequent than weekly.
“If we do see volume increases, which we anticipate, then we’ll be moving into larger vessels. That would be our medium- to long-range strategy. Our vision would be the larger vessels would be probably be around the 1,000 TEU if we were to make that step.”
The schedule will see Eimskip vessels coming into Halterm every Thursday.
The increased frequency will also open up other opportunities for Eimskip through short sea service, which is coastal shipping on the Halifax-Portland corridor that otherwise might have been moved through trucking.
“There have been carriers in the past that have tried short sea services from Halifax to the U.S. and they didn’t work out. We are going to be providing that service as well, simply because we are going to be on a weekly service and we can be competitive with trucking on a weekly service.”
Eimskip has also signed an agreement with CMA CGM to provide a feeder service to reach the New England area. The weekly callings will allow carriers to avoid congestion issues at the ports of Boston and New York to service the New England area through Halifax.
Lane Farguson, spokesman for the Halifax Port Authority, said the move is good news for everyone involved.
“For us, certainly we value all of the ocean carriers who call on Halifax and this expansion of Eimskip’s existing service, which as you know increases the frequency of those vessel calls to weekly, is good news for the importers and exporters moving goods through our Halifax Atlantic gateway. This increases the frequency of calls and also provides additional connectivity, which provides additional opportunity for those customers to connect with other markets including New England and all of the other places Eimskip calls.”
Due to the extra business and opportunities in the Maritimes, Eimskip has an agreement with FK Warren to act as its sales agent, Simms added.
Eimskip, founded in 1914, runs a network of 61 offices in 20 countries in four continents. Based in Reykjavik, it operates 21 vessels and has about 1,700 employees.