Strong July across Great Lakes gets Seaway tonnage back on course
Great Lakes/St. Lawrence shipping continues to bounce back after a slow start. With strong tonnage numbers in July, particularly on shipments of U.S. grain, liquid bulk and project cargo, the 2018 shipping season is right on par with the healthy statistics posted last year.
Overall cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway between March 29 and July 31 totaled 16.5 million metric tons. Areas of strength included U.S. grain shipments totaling 888,000 metric tons, up 32 percent over last year. Liquid bulk shipments totaled 2.3 million metric tons, an increase of 25 percent. Dry bulk shipments were down 9 percent, due to decreases in salt shipments from earlier in the season.
“St. Lawrence Seaway cargo shipments have been continuously gaining ground and are now in line with last year’s robust performance,” said Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “U.S. grain shipment increases are coming out of Toledo and heading to European markets. Some of the increase can be attributed to the 2017 soybean crop that did not go out at the end of last year due the weather. Liquid bulk continues a steady performance with asphalt and petroleum products, and it’s promising to see so many project cargo imports and exports, too.”
Tonnage to date at the Port of Toledo is slightly above the same period in 2017, reaching nearly 4.5 million short tons. A 30 percent increase in coal, and an 89 percent jump in grain shipments lead the way.
“We have seen some modest shipments of distiller’s dry grains and canola this year and it is always good when we have new commodities moving through the port,” said Joe Cappel, VP of Business Development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “While soybean and corn shipments slowed down a bit from a very busy spring export season, there was still movement of these commodities, and we hope to see that activity continue through the fall harvest when things should pick up again.”
The Port of Green Bay saw a slight increase in July tonnage from July 2017—up 1 percent.
“Though 1 percent might sound insignificant, it is a measurement of growth and a strong shipping season so far,” said Port Director Dean Haen. “Petroleum products, in particular, have been an incredibly high source of tonnage in both imports and exports. That reflects a trend in overall St. Lawrence Seaway traffic where petroleum shipments are up this year.”
Shipment numbers are especially high in Green Bay due to indefinite shutdown of the main pipeline between Milwaukee and northeast Wisconsin.
The Port of Cleveland has also been busy this summer shipping project cargo and many large items, such as yachts and beer tanks heading to various parts of the U.S.
“The Port of Cleveland and our terminal operator, Federal Marine Terminals, continue to grow in the project market segment and handled multiple generators from Siemens in South Carolina destined to a power plant in western Pennsylvania,” said David Gutheil, Chief Commercial Officer, Port of Cleveland. “Our on-dock rail access to both CSX and Norfolk Southern, supported by Cleveland Harbor Belt Railroad, has played a key role in securing these cargoes, providing key advantages for project cargo moving to and from the nation’s heartland.”
The Port of Cleveland is in the process of reactivating the Foreign Trade Zone site on port property, which will be operated by Federal Marine Terminals. Once activated, this general-purpose site will provide multiple users with short- and long-term solutions for benefits such as duty deferral and direct delivery of their cargo to an international seaport, bypassing congestion at coastal ports. As the grantee of FTZ #40, the port is focused on providing solutions to cargo owners that will decrease costs within their supply chains.
Shipments through the Port of Duluth-Superior are bouncing back after a slow, ice-laden start to the 2018 season.
“While final tallies aren’t in yet for July, tonnage heading into midsummer stood at 11.4 million short tons, nearly on par with 2017,” said Adele Yorde, spokesperson for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. Shipments of iron ore and limestone are running ahead of last year; ore is up 4 percent with an 11 percent increase in limestone. Yorde added, “This summer we have seen a variety of project cargoes and a shipment of kaolin clay to Duluth Cargo Connect docks, where crews stayed busy coordinating deliveries to paper mills, mines, wind farms and electrical transmission projects across North America.”
According to a new study released in July, cargo shipments to ports on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River waterway support 147,500 jobs and generate U.S. $25.6 billion in economic activity in the eight Great Lakes states.
View the full study and infographic here.