Chesterton Tribune

St. Lawrence Seaway reports strong start to 2011 season

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The St. Lawrence Seaway is reporting a strong start to the 2011 shipping season.

Generally viewed as a bellwether for the regional economy, initial indicators show signs of a continued rebound over last season with significant increases in grain, steel slabs, and general cargo during the first two months of activity, the Seaway said in a statement released today.

Year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to May 31 were 7.6 million metric tons, up 4 percent over the same period in 2010. Total grain shipments increased by 31 percent to 1.8 million metric tons, while coal increased by 14 percent to 850,000 metric tons.

Coke shipments were up 70 percent to 456,000 metric tons and steel slab rose 102 percent over the same time last year. However, iron ore shipments were down 39 percent to 1.6 million tons.

Grain exports, however, were the story with an increase of 126 percent over the same period last year, but whether that trend will continue is unknown. “This first shipment of the 2011 season represents about 25,000 acres of wheat produced by farmers in North Dakota,” said Adolph Ojard, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director.

Meanwhile, general cargo shipments showed an impressive 177 percent uptick in early season activity as international vessels delivered wind turbine components to the Port of Cleveland and the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.

“Last year, we had a record 15 shipments of wind cargoes at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, including our first exports of U.S.-made turbines being moved from Iowa to New Brunswick,” said Rich Cooper, CEO for the Ports of Indiana. “That momentum has continued in 2011, as we’ve had three ships from Denmark carrying some of the largest turbine blades in North America. The Seaway provides a perfect connection for European manufacturers to ship large components right to the doorstep of the rapidly growing wind markets here in the Midwest and Great Plains. The recent increase in wind shipments through the Seaway has spurred more investments by ports into specialized handling equipment and facilities, which further enhances the value of this unique shipping connection.”

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway waterway is responsible for approximately 75,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada and 150,000 in the U.S. and annually generates more than $4.3 billion in personal income, $3.4 billion in transportation-related business revenue, and $1.3 billion in federal, state and local taxes. This corridor delivers approximately $3.6 billion in annual cost savings compared to the next least expensive mode of commercial transportation and provides a competitive advantage for the North American manufacturing, construction, energy and agri-food sectors.


Posted 6/14/2011