OTTAWA: Year-to-date cargo shipments through the St Lawrence Seaway remain steady, bolstered by increases in Canadian grain shipments and petroleum products and the development of new traffic of coal exports to Europe, according to the St Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.
The Seaway’s year-to-date total cargo shipments from March 22 to October 31 were 29 million tonnes, up two percent from the same period last year. When compared to 2010 figures, strong gains were seen in shipments of Canadian grain, which increased by 15 percent to 4.7 million tonnes. Also, shipments of petroleum products from refineries to St Lawrence River ports are up by 90 percent to 2 million tonnes.
Shipments of project cargo since the start of the navigation season are also up 31 percent to 128,000 tonnes compared to 2010, the seaway said. Year-to-date US grain shipments are down 40 percent to 1.2 million tonnes compared to last year, while iron ore remains down by 17 percent with a total of seven million tonnes so far this season.
Coal shipments, which totalled close to 3 million as of October 31, have been helped by the St Lawrence Seaway being chosen as the shipping route to export low-sulphur coal to European markets. Montreal-based Canada Steamship Lines, which operates one of the largest Canadian fleets on the Great Lakes-Seaway, has transported more than 300,000 tonnes of coal from Superior, Wisconsin to the Port of Quebec from mid-summer to mid-October, where it has then been loaded onto oceangoing vessels for export to Europe.
The Port of Thunder Bay, the largest grain handling port on the Great Lakes-Seaway
system, reported that its shipments of grain to Southern Ontario and international markets have increased by 20 percent this season to 4.6 million, compared to 2010.
“Canadian wheat shipments are strong, but we’ve also seen a huge amount of canola coming through our Port,” said Tim Heney, CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority. “We’ve also had our strongest year ever in shipments of project cargo such as wind turbines and heavy machinery.”