New Cargos Boost St. Lawrence Seaway Commerce

MarineLink.com
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Despite a downturn in overall cargo movements through the St. Lawrence Seaway in July (down 12.5% over 2012), new cargos and new vessels signaled continued confidence in the future of the navigation system.

Several U.S. ports welcomed a variety of heavy lift cargos destined for projects throughout the region. “Twice during July, McKeil Marine Ltd. has called at the Port of Monroe to deliver heavy-lift industrial components,” said Monroe port director Paul LaMarre. “These project pieces were manufactured by Cherubini Metal Workers Ltd in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and will be installed in the last of four Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) Units at DTE Energy’s Monroe Power Plant. These shipments represent the first Seaway cargo to come to the Port of Monroe in quite some time – an event we look forward to repeating.”

“Delivering the cargo to the Port of Monroe realized efficiencies for the customer in utilizing water to get as close as possible to final destination,” said McKeil marketing manager Brent Kinnaird. “Our versatile fleet lends itself well to carrying oversized pieces and we expect to further leverage these capabilities with additional ports throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.”

At the Port of Cleveland, international cargo volume jumped 77% in July compared to the same time last year. Year-to-date, the port is up nearly 4% compared to 2012.

“We continue to see strong demand for steel from manufacturers in our region,” said David Gutheil, vice president of maritime and logistics. “We also handled two new types of cargo that both originated in Germany – steel beams destined for western Pennsylvania, and manufacturing presses that were sent to Wooster, Ohio.”

Gutheil added that the port continues to benefit from last year’s expansion of its on-dock rail system and expects to see more new types of cargo this year.

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a $100 million grid upgrade came a step closer to completion after an ocean-going vessel transported three transformers to the site. “The sophisticated electrical equipment made in Sweden by Swiss power giant ABB moved through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Port of Milwaukee and from there was transshipped by barge to St. Ignace,” said Rebecca Spruill, SLSDC Director of the Office of Trade Development.

Spruill added, “This shipment is just one of several this month involving over-sized high value cargos, clearly demonstrating that the Seaway is recognized by the shipping industry as the most reliable and cost efficient route for cargo destined for the heartland of North America.”

New business ventures and unique cargos were not the only highlights last month. U.S. ports also welcomed new, environmentally advanced vessels from Canada Steamship Lines (CSL).

The Port of Duluth-Superior welcomed the Whitefish Bay, the second of CSL’s four Trillium Class vessels, to Midwest Energy Resources Co. (MERC). She loaded 32,500 short tons of low-sulfur Western coal on its way to Quebec City for transshipment to Rotterdam, Netherlands. MERC president Fred Shusterich welcomed the ship, “The high caliber of these state-of-the-art vessels equates to increased efficiency and lower costs for our customers, all of which bodes well for continued export business.”

The Thunder Bay, CSL’s third new Trillium Class vessel, traveled from Escanaba, Michigan where she loaded iron ore pellets that will be delivered to the Port of Quebec for markets overseas. At a maiden voyage celebration in Port Colborne, Ontario, Louis Martel, President of CSL stated, “All Trillium Class vessels were built to meet the high environmental standards expected by the communities in which we operate. They use 15% less fuel, release fewer emissions and dust, and provide outstanding operational efficiency.”

Between 2012-2016, more than 30 new ships from CSL and other Canadian shipowners, and valued at over $1 billion, will ply the Great Lakes, not only representing a strong commitment to meeting future environmental standards, but also signaling an extremely positive outlook for the future of the shipping industry in the Great Lakes-Seaway System.

As reported by the St. Lawrence Seaway, year-to-date cargo shipments for the period March 22 to July 31 were 15.3 million metric tons. Overall, cargo categories were mixed. U.S. grain continued to be the dominant cargo shipment in July with a 35% jump over the same period in 2012. Lower steel production throughout most of the Great Lakes region continues to reduce the need for iron ore and coal. Both commodities were down in July by 16 and 3% respectively. Within the dry bulk category, however, scrap metal was up 40% as well as pig iron at 7%. Additionally, liquid bulk shipments showed a slight increase of 1.5% to 1.7 million metric tons.

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