Seaway launches 2011 season on upbeat note
The 2011 St. Lawrence Seaway season kicked off today (March 22) with a mood of optimism prevalent among Seaway officials and users.
At the opening ceremony at the St. Lambert Lock in Montreal, Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, saluted the recent announcements by carriers to renew their fleets and predicted that shipments on the North American waterway should increase by about 7% this year to 39.1 million tonnes.
In 2011, Mr. Bowles said he foresaw continued continued strength in the staple cargoes of grain and iron ore. He also anticipated a rebound of road salt shipments and rising project cargo movements due in part to continued activity in the Alberta oil sands.
"Transportation of raw materials serves as a bellwether for the economy as a whole, and despite volatile global economic conditions, we have reason to be cautiously optimistic regarding our various market segments," said Mr. Bowles who has succeeded Richard Corfe at the helm of the Canadian Seaway corporation.
Also commenting on the outlook were Ian White, President and CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board, Collister Johnson Jr, head of the Washington-based St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, and Stephen Wilkes, a senior executive with Tata Steel.
Mr. White said the Seaway continues to make up a vital part of the CWB's supply chain, with growing prospects for grain exports to Europe, Latin America and Africa.
Mr. Wilkes underlined the important role played by the Seaway, with substantial shipments of steel products from its manufacturing plants in Europe reaching customers in the North American heartland via the Seaway. Sometimes raw materials are carried back through the Seaway to the Tata plants in Europe, he noted.
Tata Steel recently concluded an agreement with New Millenium Capital Corporation to potentially invest nearly $5 billion in huge iron ore deposits in northern Quebec and Labrador.
First vessel through the St. Lambert Lock was the MV Avonborg of Wagenborg Shipping, carrying a load of wind mill components from Denmark for final destination of Burns Harbour. (Photo Leo Ryan)