Highway H20 expands shores

by Array


The Highway H20 conference has pushed beyond its water-based attendees to include participants from transportation modes like rail and trucking, according to Bruce Hodgson, director of marketing development for the St Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. Hodgson made the statements while opening of the two-day conference, held in Toronto November 8-9.

Hodgson led the conference with highlights for the water system in 2011. Cargo and new business was ahead of last year at over 24 million tonnes, he said. Canadian grain shipments were up—a trend he noted will likely continue—while the movement of salt and petroleum products had also increased.

Aron Gampel, vice-president and deputy chief economist at Scotiabank, painted a shaky picture of the global economic scene. “These aren’t the easiest of times,” Gampel told the roughly 100 conference attendees. With the big economies “under water,” the world was in a transitional period with developing countries driving economic growth and developed economies lagging, he said. The issue involved sovereign debt in nations like Greece. “If those problems weren’t enough, we just don’t have enough growth in the world,” he said. Although Scotiabank had downgraded its growth forecast for 2012, Gampel didn’t predict a double-dip recession.

Erin Fletcher, public affairs and communications manager for the Grain Farmers of Ontario, stressed how the Seaway helped the grain industry. The Seaway represents an important piece of the industry’s logistics network, Fletcher said, allowing grain to be shipped internationally. In 2010, Ontario exported 500,000 tonnes of corn, two million tonnes of soybeans and 300,000 tonnes of wheat through the Seaway. It also meant less paperwork while crossing the US border, she said, so goods arrived fresh south of the border. “We highly value the Seaway and the relationships we have with lake terminals,” Fletcher said.

Sustaining the hinterland
Michael Van Toledo, commercial manager, containers, at the Port of Amsterdam, presented the port’s plans to service the Netherlands’ hinterlands in a sustainable way. Cargo flows from Amsterdam and Rotterdam will grow, he said. One percent of economic growth will equal 3.5 percent container growth. “So we expect growth of about 50 percent within the next 10 years,” Van Toledo told the audience. The consequences of growth are congested roads near ports, delivery delays and health risks. In the coming years, the port will need more capacity and at the same time ways to reduce cost and C02 emissions.

One strategy was to connect transportation systems, Van Toledo said. Port authorities in Amsterdam were also co-operating with other terminals on sustainability. “Port Base”, for example, is a system in Rotterdam and Amsterdam that exchange information so cargo flows efficiently. Van Toledo stressed the importance of identifying cargo flows between the Great Lakes and Europe.