Great Lakes-Seaway Cargo Shipments Push Higher in September

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Published Oct 18, 2022 11:33 AM by The Maritime Executive

[By: Chamber of Marime Commerce]

October 18, 2022 — September proved to be a strong month for shipping on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system, moving total cargo tonnage closer to 2021 levels. September shipments reached nearly 4.2 million tons, bringing the year-to-date shipping total to 23.4 million tons. While still 5.6% below the year-to-date total from last year, that gap continues to shrink.

“The strong September tonnage is a good sign and a reflection of what we have been hoping for in recent months,” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “There was a nice jump in Canadian grain shipments, and we are seeing the grain pipeline start to fill up. We look for the grain tonnage to continue to be strong in the coming months.”

Canadian grain shipments reached 840,000 tons in September, but remains about 20% below the year-to-date total from last year. While Canadian grain remains down, potash (+262%), other general cargo (+181%), petroleum products (+43%) and U.S. grain (+41%) have shown nice gains over 2021.   

“We are encouraged to see grain tonnage continue to rise through the Port of Hamilton,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO of HOPA Ports. “We know global food security is a major concern due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Canadian ports are ready and Canadian farmers are poised to provide more of what the world needs to meet global demand.” 

At the Port of Windsor, overall tonnage is up approximately 11% in comparison to last year. Salt is doing very well and appears to be running near or at full capacity again with volumes up nearly 17% in 2022. 

“We are also seeing aggregates starting to reflect the impact of the electric vehicle plant under construction with a year-to-date increase of 18%,” said Steve Salmons, President & CEO of the Windsor Port Authority. “The return of cruise ships has also contributed to the 15% increase in vessels to the Port. Plus, U.S. tonnage has nearly doubled at 316,000 tons related to aggregates some grain from Ohio to ADM.”

2022 averages of Great Lakes cruise passengers and inventories are up by roughly 12% in comparison to 2019, making 2022 an “outstanding recovery year for Great Lakes cruises,” said Stephen Burnett, Executive Director at The Great Lakes Cruise Association, “Occupancies of Great Lakes cruises have been very robust in 2022, and we can already see a significant increase in inventory for 2023.”.

At the Picton Terminals, the Amy Lynn D tug was busy again in September. The tug assisted the Sea Crescent from Montreal through the St. Lawrence Seaway delivering a crane to Cape Vincent.

The Seaway system has also seen shipments of several wind projects, with turbines produced in Germany, Spain, Vietnam and China transported through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system.

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