Thursday, October 11, 2012

Canadian Grain Shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway Up 27% in September

Ottawa, Ontario (October 11, 2012) — Canadian grain shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway reached 685,000 tonnes in September, a 27 per cent increase compared to the same month last year.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation reported that the positive grain picture helped lift the Seaway’s year-to-date total cargo shipments from March 22 to September 30 to 25 million tonnes, in line with the same period last year.

According to Statistics Canada, wheat, barley and corn production is expected to be up this year following favourable growing conditions in the Prairies. Shipments from Ontario farmers through the Seaway, however, are down roughly 40 per cent this season due to the drought weather conditions in the province this summer.

Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, said: “September was a good month for grain cargoes but year-to-date Canadian grain shipments through the Seaway are still down 7 per cent compared to last year.  Farmers have been storing their grain to wait for a better selling window in the world market. We expect that Prairie grain shipments will accelerate in the coming months.”

After a slow couple of months, the Thunder Bay Port Authority — where the majority of Canadian grain enters the Great Lakes-Seaway system — says local cargo numbers were back on the rise for September.

Nearly 1 million tonnes of cargo moved through the port during September. That's a 32 per cent increase over September 2011. The vast majority of that cargo was grain — a large portion of which will travel through the Seaway bound for overseas markets.

Other highlights in St. Lawrence Seaway cargo trade included strong shipments of coal with continued growth in exports to Europe. Year-to-date coal shipments totalled 3.3 million tonnes, up 31 per cent. This is expected to continue during the coming months.  Year-to-date general cargo, which includes oversized cargo like wind turbines and heavy machinery as well as steel slabs and coils, totalled 1.35 million tonnes — up 6 per cent from the same period last year.

The Port of Hamilton had a number of oversized cargo shipments in September, including four process towers, measuring between 155ft and 250ft in length and weighing between 320,000lbs and 400,000lbs each, that were shipped from Hamilton to a Mississippi power plant currently under construction. On the import side, the heavy lift ship Stellaprima arrived in port in mid-September carrying 175mt rotors from Rotterdam destined for the Bruce Nuclear plant in Goderich, Ontario.  Later this fall, the port of Hamilton is expected to handle a delivery of 200 rail cars from a Hamilton-based manufacturer to a customer in Saudi Arabia, as well as a large shipment of windmill components.

“Project cargo is an important part of the Hamilton Port Authority’s growth and diversification strategy,” said Ian Hamilton, HPA Vice President, Business Development & Real Estate, noting that project cargo quadrupled from 2008 to 2011, and is on-track to grow further in 2012.  “We have the experience, the facilities, and the location, so we are expecting even more traffic in the coming years as domestic and foreign manufacturers take notice.”

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14 billion in salary and wages, $34.6 billion in business revenue, and $4.6 billion in federal, state/provincial and local taxes. North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials and finished products that are moved annually on the system. This vital trade corridor saves companies $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative.