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Seaway cargo shipments up 18% in mid-season

2017-08-16

McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

Iron ore and grain exports continued to drive a St. Lawrence Seaway shipping resurgence in the first half of the shipping season with cargo volume up 18 per cent over 2016. According to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, total cargo tonnage from March 20 to July 31 reached 16 million metric tons - 2.5 million metric tons more compared to the same period in 2016.

"Cargo shipments first started to improve last autumn and we're very pleased to see that positive momentum continue throughout the first half of 2017," said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. "The main drivers have been U.S. iron ore and Canadian grain exports along with domestic demand for steel, salt, and construction materials. Looking ahead, we await the results of the new grain harvest as this will influence shipments later this year".

Year-to-date iron ore shipments totaled 3.7 million metric tons, up 68 per cent over 2016 levels. Canadian domestic carriers are loading U.S. iron ore pellets at Minnesota ports/docks to ship via the Seaway to the Port of Québec, where it is then transferred to larger ocean-going vessels for onward transport to Japan and China.

Seaway salt shipments from Ontario and Québec mines to cities and towns throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region totaled 1.4 million metric tons, up 42 per cent over the same period last year.

Canadian grain totaled 3.1 million metric tons, up nine per cent, with vessels shipping a large carry over of Prairie and Ontario grain products from last fall's harvest to overseas markets.

 

The Port of Thunder Bay, the primary Great Lakes gateway for Prairie grain, has shipped 350,000 metric tons more grain than usual as of July 31.
The Port of Windsor is also off to a very strong start in 2017, with total traffic up by almost 20 per cent as of the end of July. Leading the surge are shipments of grain, which are up by 36 per cent and salt volumes which are up by 32 per cent. Also posting strong growth is inbound general cargo, which consists primarily of imported steel and is up by just over 25 per cent.

Commenting on the shipping season to date, David Cree, President & CEO of the Windsor Port Authority, stated: "We had anticipated a slight recovery after the downturn in 2016, but these numbers have exceeded our projections. It is also important to note that two of the largest gains for the year, grain and general cargo, are shipped to a large extent on foreign vessels which utilize a significant portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway System, thus contributing significantly to the Seaway System's strong early results."

At the Port of Hamilton, commodities like salt, grain and fertilizer are all showing good results at the mid-point in the 2017 shipping season.

Ian Hamilton, President and CEO of the Hamilton Port Authority, explained. "While Ontario agricultural producers are major exporters of grain, including corn, wheat and soybeans, crop inputs such as urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) are also imported for use within Ontario's farming regions. Hamilton is a key import gateway for these products. Lower fertilizer prices are driving increased import volumes this year, with tonnages through the Port of Hamilton trending 24 per cent higher so far in the 2017 shipping season, compared to 2016." (Photo ACC)

 
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