Cooling demand for cargo traffic at Richmond’s Port

outatseaWorldwide demand along most shipping routes has fallen precipitously. And a chill from Iceland will cool cargo traffic at the Port of Richmond.

Iceland is suffering a far worse credit crunch than the U.S. And, in a bad sign for Richmond’s South Side port, the North Atlantic island country gets some of its cars and campers through shipping company Eimskip, which is based in Iceland.

“We’re not shipping as many vehicles as we used to,” said Sly Young, the director of operations for Eimskip, which has its U.S. office in Hampton Roads. Eimskip runs two ships in to Richmond per month.

“Most of our exports are for cars and campers. So, because Icelandic get cars cheaper (on account of the currency fluctuations), they don’t get them in U.S,” Young said.

“But it’s hard to tell right now. It’s just started going now.”

Iceland is also having currency problems, which are making goods priced in dollars more expensive. Another bad sign for Icelandic demand – the Icelandic government took over the three largest banks. So far, Eimskip says it’s having no trouble paying its employees.

“To tell the truth, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve been here 12 years, and this hasn’t happened before. Lot that’s happening today that’s never happened before,” Young said.

Eimskip hauls goods from Richmond to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Denmark. In addition to cars (Fords and Jeeps, mostly), the shipping companies loads up with apples at the Port of Richmond.

The other company that serves Richmond is Independent Container Line. It ships to England and Belgium. Europe is suffering through a similar credit crunch, and demand for imported goods is expected to fall.

The Port of Richmond is located on the City’s south side. One source there say the number of workers has remained steady.

Editor Aaron Kremer took a ship ride last summer aboard an Eimskip vessel. He boarded in Richmond and got off three days later in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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