Seaway wrapping up season with strong gains

The following is the text of a news release from the Chamber of Marine Commerce:

(OTTAWA) — As the 2017 shipping season heads into the final weeks, St. Lawrence Seaway cargo volumes are expected to top 2016 in a year marked by economic recovery and new business wins. Total cargo tonnage from March 20 through Nov. 30 reached 33.6 million metric tons, up 8.5 percent compared to the same time period in 2016.

“It’s great to be where we are heading into the end of the year,” said Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “The Seaway has recovered ground in key cargo commodities this season, particularly shipments of iron ore, while continuing to diversify by attracting more aluminum cargo and oversized machinery and components destined for the U.S. manufacturing and energy sectors.”  

As of the end of November, iron ore shipments topped 7.4 million metric tons, an increase of 34 percent driven primarily by U.S. iron ore pellet exports to Asia. St. Lawrence Seaway shipping totals are also up from last year for general cargo (up 28 percent over 2016) and dry bulk (up 12 percent).

As the 2017 shipping season begins to wind down, there’s been a flurry of activity in both bulk cargo and project cargo movements through the Port of Duluth-Superior. “The pace of iron ore shipments continued strong through November, already surpassing 2016 season-end tonnage,” said Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director. “We also saw a surge in project cargo, as well. Just after Thanksgiving, fleet mates BBC Mississippi and Vesuvius were docked side by side at our Clure Public Terminal and adjacent new heavy-lift dock. The first ship discharged 64 wind turbine tower sections from Indonesia while the second ship was loading a 220-metric-ton reactor bound for Colombia. On the opposite corner of the Clure Terminal, the Liberian-flag Yulia was discharging 17,000 tons of kaolin clay from Brazil. And just yesterday, the Erik arrived at our dock to load a 442-ton boiler for transport to Sarnia.”

November was another solid month for shipping activity at the Port of Toledo, with total tonnage 24 percent ahead of the same time period last year and on pace for the best season since 2014. “Iron ore and general cargo continue to show the best improvement over last year,” said Joseph Cappel, vice president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “This is indicative of a strong manufacturing economy as steel production and aluminum are incorporated into the automotive and appliance sectors throughout the Great Lakes region.”   

The Port of Cleveland also reports a strong month. “The end of the season push led to a strong November as we doubled our international tonnage compared to November 2016,” said David S. Gutheil, vice president of maritime and logistics for the Port of Cleveland. “We are now running 19 percent ahead of 2016 year-to-date numbers.” Gutheil also said steel shipments have been strong throughout the year with continued penetration in the project cargo market. “The Port of Cleveland would also like to congratulate Federal Marine Terminals, our general cargo terminal operator, and ILA Local 1317 for achieving 365 straight days without lost time due to injury.” 

For the Port of Green Bay, salt and coal shipments led the way in November. “While November was not the strongest month of the season, we continue to have an average year,” said Port Director Dean Haen. “We could see icebreaking activity again this year to facilitate additional shipment of petroleum projects to Green Bay with the pipeline between Milwaukee and Green Bay shut down indefinitely.” No official announcement has been made by the U.S. Coast Guard on whether icebreaking will take place. 

By Professional Mariner Staff