Chesterton Tribune



Cargo shipping numbers down on St Lawrence Seaway so far this year

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The St. Lawrence Seaway is reporting that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to May 31 were 8.1 million metric tons, down 12 percent from the same period in 2012.

“U.S. grain tonnage shipped through Seaway locks more than doubled (132 percent) compared to last year’s figures through May 31, and there was a solid increase (7 percent) in liquid bulk products totaling almost a million metric tons,” Rebecca Spruill, director of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation’s Office of Trade Development, said in a statement released today. “These two commodities are the bright spots in the navigation season so far,”

But iron ore and coal, traditionally top producers for Seaway shipments, showed downturns of 17 percent and 7 percent respectively. Coal shipments in the Great Lakes have been dropping due to electric utility plants converting to natural gas operations, although U.S. ports have seen an increase of exports of low sulfur coal to Europe.

General cargo was down 19 percent to 389,000 metric tons. In the liquid bulk category, petroleum products showed a 24 percent year-to-date increase to 642,000 metric tons. The dry bulk category was down 27 percent to 1.7 million metric tons. On the other hand, scrap metal and pig iron posted upturns of 69 percent and 16 percent respectively.

“While the season has had a rather slow start, U.S. ports are taking the long view,” the statement said.

“Our tonnage is down slightly from last year’s fast start, but we are 15 percent ahead of our previous five-year average,” said Rick Heimann, port director for the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. “We have seen significant increases in bulk commodities and project cargoes, and had the added bonus of being able to handle the world’s largest crawler crane for the second time in two years as it was shipped back to Germany from the BP Refinery Expansion in Whiting, Ind. Looking ahead, we expect to see an increase in barge traffic coming up through the inland water system in June but the outlook for Seaway shipments is more uncertain at this point.”

Through May, the Port of Indiana handled 30 times more project cargo than 2012 YTD as well as significant increases in shipments of fertilizer (up 37 percent), soybeans (up 15 percent) and various dry bulk cargoes, including slag shipments, which were up nearly five times more than the previous year’s five-month total.

“We continue to feel encouraged about the 2013 navigation season,” SLSDC Acting Administrator Craig Middlebrook said. “The significant public and private reinvestments currently being made in the North American economy and the Great Lakes region are laying the groundwork for sustained future growth.”

“The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14.1 billion in salary and wages, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $4.6 billion in federal, state/provincial and local taxes. North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials and finished products that are moved annually on the system,” the statement said. “This vital trade corridor saves companies $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative.”


Posted 6/13/2013