Seaway system reports gains in traditional cargoes in May

The following is text of a news release from the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership:

(WASHINGTON) — The St. Lawrence Seaway reported overall gains in traditional cargoes through the month of May, with shipments of coal, grain, liquid bulk and general cargoes totaling 4.67 million metric tons (mt) – keeping Seaway traffic above the five-year average.

Year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period from March 29 through May 31 were 7.866 million metric tons, a decrease of 3.71 percent compared to 2017 figures. Iron ore shipments were down 24.8 percent. While the dry bulk category decreased 18.5 percent, shipments of pig iron went up 324.4 percent, stone increased 161.8 percent and ores and concentrates cargoes were up 97.3 percent. The Seaway’s 2018 shipping season began almost a week later than the 2017 shipping season.

Top performing cargoes through May 2018 include:

Coal – 649,000 mt; a 43.4 percent increase
Grain – 2,204,000 mt; an 8.58 percent increase
Liquid bulk – 1,096,000 mt; a 19.4 percent increase
Pig iron – 61,000 mt; a 324.4 percent increase
Steel slabs – 205,000 mt; a 100.6 percent increase

“With our 60th navigation season well underway, the Seaway continues to do what it does best – moving traditional bulk cargoes such as coal and grain, with tonnage increases posted for both,” said Craig Middlebrook, deputy administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. “The continued demand for raw materials to support the automotive, manufacturing and construction sectors is keeping Seaway traffic steady, and above the five-year average.”

The U.S. ports of Milwaukee (Wis.), Oswego (N.Y.) and Toledo (Ohio) showed strong activity thus far this year.

“May has been a month of steady traffic at Port Milwaukee with steel arriving at a pace comparable to recent strong years,” said Jeff Fleming, spokesman for Port Milwaukee. “Some of the same ships bringing steel have made the short hop to the silos in Port Milwaukee’s inner harbor where they have loaded locally grown grain for export.”

A similar demand is opening up a new maritime market for U.S. grain that has not existed at the Port of Oswego for over 40 years, said William Scriber, acting executive director of the Port of Oswego Authority. “We are just finishing a joint project with Purdue Agribusiness to start tripling our grain exports to 60,000 metric tons for 2018 and increasing to 75,000-80,000 metric tons in 2019,” says Scriber. “Last year we had a total of under 15,000 metric tons shipped by water. This year our first ship, scheduled for the end of June, will almost equal that.”

Nearly 2.5 million tons of cargo have passed through the Port of Toledo early in the 2018 shipping season. Coal and grain are outpacing 2017 year-to-date results while other commodities are not far behind. “We have seen a lot of international grain movement early this year,” said Joe Cappel, vice president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. Additionally, distillers’ dry grains have begun to move out of the port for the first time while shipments of bagged salt and bagged cement have also been imported. “Salt and cement are not new commodities for our port but handling these products packaged in bags and super sacks is new. It’s great to see that shippers are pursuing new ways to utilize the St. Lawrence Seaway System for moving non-traditional cargoes.”

By Professional Mariner Staff