Great Lakes Ports Work On Building Cargo Diversity

Project cargo’s growing diversification role

Throughout the vast Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system in the United States and Canada, most ports seek to diversify their customer base by developing new business beyond traditional bulk markets. Front and center in their efforts are project cargoes, especially wind energy components destined to meet the rising demands of utilities. On the horizon, too, is a project in Ohio that could soon become the first offshore wind facility in the Great Lakes.

 

Wind energy has been a key component of the Port of Duluth’s diversification strategy.

Wind Energy Powers Diversification

At the Port of Duluth, the top tonnage port on the Great Lakes (32 million metric tons), the Clure Public Marine Terminal handles high-value general cargo as well as project and dimensional cargoes.

Deb DeLuca, port director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, recently stated that “cargo diversity is important to any port and its catchment area. A mix of cargo spells economic stability.”

The port on Lake Superior along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin has strong expectations for 2020 after shattering a wind energy cargo record last year. In total, Duluth welcomed 306,000 tons of wind energy cargo in 2019. This eclipsed the previous summit of 302,000 tons in 2008. Duluth Cargo Connect managed the unloading, storage and dispatch of the cargo to various sites in the Midwest.

Such a banner performance was termed “no accident” by DeLuca. “We’ve made more than $25 million in strategic investments to the terminal in the past four years, enhancements that help support the excellent work Duluth Cargo Connect does in handling these oversize wind cargoes.”

Indeed, the tower sections are long, but the blades are even longer – with some well past 200 feet.

“Wind energy has been an important part of our cargo portfolio, dating back to our first shipments more than a decade ago,” noted Jonathan Lamb, president of Duluth Cargo Connect. “As the farthest inland port in North America, we’re geographically well situated to support wind farm installations in the Upper Midwest and central Canada. We pride ourselves in providing a seamless connection between modes of transportation for our wind energy customers.”

Strapped for space and needing more laydown area, the port is adding 50,000 square feet of warehouse space and rebuilding two dock walls at a cost of $21 million, with construction planned for 2021-2023. Beyond wind components, Lamb says that Clure Terminal is targeting dimensional cargoes including transformers, reactors, pressure vessels and similar equipment serving mining, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries.

A number of U.S. Great Lakes ports are developing reputations for the efficient handling of project and heavy lift cargo. The Port of Bay City, Michigan on Lake Huron handled five wind energy cargoes in 2019. And the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled one of the more unique project cargoes in 2019 when it moved two huge rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTG) from the port to the CSX Intermodal Terminals’ facility in nearby Chicago. The 68-piece cargo arrived at the Indiana port in June aboard the HC Melina and was discharged from the vessel by Federal Marine Terminal’s (FMT) shore crane for transport to the CSX Intermodal Terminals’ Bedford Park facility, which handles domestic and international freight.

Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor

Ian Hurt of the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, said FMT, the general cargo stevedore at the port, could perform two-crane lifts of nearly 200 metric tons, or 440,000 pounds, nearing the top of any port’s capabilities in the U.S. Great Lakes or Canada. “Intermodal transport requires all modes to work together seamlessly, and the gantry crane shipment is an example of the efficient transportation attributes and its connectivity in the Midwest,” Hirt explained.

At the Port of Monroe, Michigan’s only port on Lake Erie, coal remains the top commodity, but Port Director Paul Lamarre III has been a strong proponent of cargo diversity. And this strategy’s success is borne out by growing imports of project cargo and exports of wind tower sections manufactured at the port. More than a dozen BigLift vessels carrying wind components are expected in 2020.

 

More than a dozen BigLift vessels are expected at Port of Monroe in 2020.

 

Project cargo and heavy machinery are also handled at such ports as Detroit, Toledo and, of course, Cleveland where the Cleveland-Europe Express service operated by Spliethoff has concluded its sixth season hauling containers and breakbulk cargo between Cleveland and Antwerp.

David Gutheil, chief commercial officer of the Port of Cleveland, told the American Journal of Transportation that the port handles a significant amount of non-containerized steel, heavy lift, heavy machinery and capital equipment. Customers include General Electric, Siemens and Alcoa. He welcomed the contribution of Logistec, which has completed its first year as the general cargo terminal operator.

Proposed Offshore Wind Project on Lake Erie

Looking several years down the road, Gutheil evoked the big potential for the Port of Cleveland of a proposed offshore wind project on the shores of Lake Erie that would constitute the first freshwater wind farm in North America. Known as Icebreaker Wind, the $126 million pilot project consists of six 3.45MW turbines located 8 miles north of Cleveland. LEEDCo, a non-profit PPP, is co-developing the project with Norwegian equity investor Fred Olsen Renewables. Cleveland Public Power has committed to buying 63% of output over 16 years.

The project has won federal approval and has encountered no major public opposition (a good measure of public support, in fact). Assuming the Ohio Power Siting Board gives the green light, possibly by this spring, construction could start in 2021 and commercial operation in 2022. Ultimately, analysts suggest it could transform Ohio into a regional offshore wind-supply chain hub.

“We see much potential for us as a staging center for the energy components,” Gutheil told AJOT.

New Laydown Areas Benefit Canadian Ports

Meanwhile, officials at the U.S. and Canadian Seaway corporations are continuing to put strong emphasis on the Great Lakes/Seaway System as a non-congested and strategically-located alternative to gateways on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf for project and heavy lift cargoes.

Among Canadian ports on the Great Lakes, the newly-merged Lake Ontario ports of Hamilton and Oshawa (now called the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority, or HOPA) are continuing to develop project cargo and breakbulk business.

 

Spliethoff has completed six years of its Cleveland-Europe Express service.

 

On the tip of Lake Superior, the investments by the Port of Thunder Bay (mainly a grain export gateway) on a new laydown area, railway yard as well as a new warehouse scheduled for completion this May are paying off with two large wind turbine projects in Western Canada slated to use the port’s Keefer Terminal for oversized cargo.

We are also handling more structural steel and railway track for Western Canada as a result of our new laydown area,” indicated Tim Heney, chief executive of the Thunder Bay Port Authority.

Another Canadian port focused on bulk shipping that has significantly diversified its customer base due to investments in bigger laydown areas is Johnstown in eastern Ontario. Last year, it welcomed 13 multi-purpose vessels carrying 29 full sets of turbines for a regional wind farm. The laydown areas have likewise accommodated steel construction beams, and steel pipes will start later this year.

 

Source: American Journal of Transportation

U.S. Great Lakes Ports Report Busy 2019 Navigation Season

The St. Lawrence Seaway, North America’s binational marine highway stretching 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, registered an 8.5 percent gain in year-over-year dry bulk cargo shipments in 2019. This highlights the Seaway’s ability to drive a diverse mix of commodities to and from Great Lakes ports.

The top-performing cargos through the 2019 Navigation Season include: 

  • Salt — 3,855,000 metric tons; 10.8%* increase
  • Cement & Clinkers — 1,909,000 metric tons; 1.2%* increase
  • Coke — 1,453,000 metric tons; 8.5%* increase
  • Gypsum — 640,000 metric tons; 27.8%* increase
  • Potash — 333,000 metric tons; 7.3%* increase

*Percentages rounded to nearest tenth

“Throughout the 2019 shipping season, American Great Lakes ports continued moving cargos at a consistent pace, achieved numerous benchmarks and historic moments, and made significant investments to maintain success in 2020,” said Steve Fisher, Executive Director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association.

The final total tonnage results – 38 million tons of commodities moved in 2019 – reflect an overall 6.6 percent decrease in Seaway-wide total tonnage compared to the 2018 season yet kept on pace with the Seaway’s five-year average.

Historic Year for ‘The Biggest Little Port’

Port Monroe laid the groundwork during a strong 2018 navigation season, including the introduction of a new state-funded riverfront dock, for continued success throughout the 2019 season.

In October 2019, Port Monroe handled a historic shipment — a deserved payoff for their efforts in increasing international inbound and outbound cargos — receiving what may be the most valuable single piece of cargo to have moved through the Seaway System. The M/V Happy Ranger delivered a stator — a device that converts a rotating magnetic field to electric current — from Rotterdam, Netherlands to the Port of Monroe. The record-breaking piece of cargo, due to value, will be used in a generator at DTE

Energy’s Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant in Newport.

That very same ship, M/V Happy Ranger, was then loaded with 42 wind tower segments manufactured at Ventower, a wind energy manufacturing company based in Monroe, and shipped to Peru, exemplifying what can only be described by Port Director Paul C. LaMarre III as “logistics perfection.”

Port of Cleveland Capitalizes on General Cargo, Invests in Future

The Port of Cleveland reported that general cargo tonnage increased by approximately 9 percent in the 2019 navigation season compared to 2018. “This increase was achieved despite the fact that our trans-Atlantic tonnage decreased by approximately 25 percent. Due to the forecasted continued stagnation in trans-Atlantic tonnage, the Port and our terminal operator, LOGISTEC, has shifted focus and secured new general cargo business from Canada, which directly contributed to the increase in our total general cargo tonnage,” said Port of Cleveland’s Chief Commercial Officer David Gutheil.

The Port also completed a major rehabilitation of their bulkhead at Cleveland Bulk Terminal, which will enable multiple vessels to be worked simultaneously and significantly improve loading and discharging efficiencies at that operation for years to come. The Port continues to expand its cruise vessel business, and in 2019 welcomed 28 passenger vessels. During the 2020 season, Cleveland expects to be the port of call for 40 passenger vessel calls to Cleveland.

Wind-Related Cargo Blows Port of Duluth-Superior Past Single-Season Record

The Port of Duluth-Superior finished this navigation season strong, achieving notable benchmarks with wind-related cargo and grain. In 2019, the Port set a single-season record, welcoming 306,000 freight tons of wind energy cargo. This haul eclipsed the previous high of 302,000 freight tons set in 2008. The Port also saw a surge of late-season grain, pushing their 2019 season total 15 percent over last season and more than 40 percent ahead of 2017.

Overall, it was an award-winning year for the Port of Duluth-Superior and its terminal operator (Duluth Cargo Connect). The Port collected its 18th Pacesetter Award for international tonnage increases, earned high marks in the Green Marine environmental performance report (ranking among the United States’ top 5 and No. 10 overall), and was named the 2019 Port/Terminal Operator of the Year by an international panel of judges with Heavy Lift and Project Forwarding International.

Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor Sees Positive Numbers with Grain

The Port of Indiana reported that, through the end of November, overall tonnage was down 4 percent from 2018. However, as the final numbers come in for the season, the trend points to a considerable increase in grain shipments compared to last season.

“As we collect data for the entire 2019 navigation season, it is clear tonnage results reflect the more challenging conditions encountered this year compared to 2018,” said Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor Director Ian Hirt. “It was a steady year that was hampered by trade uncertainty as well as difficult navigational conditions.”

In 2019, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor received the 2019 PCA Industrial Award, hosted Indiana’s first U.S. Navy vessel commissioning ceremony of the USS Indianapolis, and is making significant investments for the future including two new railyards, 4.4  miles extension to the port’s 14-mile rail network, construction of a new 2.3-acre cargo terminal with multimodal connections, improvements to the dock apron and approximately 1200-foot dock expansion, and a new 6-acre truck marshaling yard.

 

Source: The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership

Port Of Monroe Earns Award For Cargo Work

The Port of Monroe received a Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award, which is awarded by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

The Port of Monroe has once again been honored for its work with handling international cargo.

The local port received a Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award, which is awarded by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, for the 2018 navigation season. The Port of Monroe was one of eight ports to receive the recognition.

Paul LaMarre III, the director of the Port of Monroe, received the award recently during the SLSDC’s summer meeting. It was presented by Tom Lavigne, associate administrator of the SLSDC which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

LaMarre said the recognition wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of his team members.

“I wish the award could be chopped up into tiny pieces and that they could be given to everyone who has been a part of our success,” LaMarre said. “It is the daily grind of our team that has taken the Port of Monroe from a vacant field to a bustling seaport.”

The award is given to ports on the Great Lakes that register an increase in handling international tonnage. This is the fourth year that the Port of Monroe has received the honor. It was awarded one for its works during the 2017 and 2015 navigation seasons, as well as 2013.

“The fact that this is our fourth award in 6 years is not only representative of our growth, but also our resilience and diversity,” LaMarre said.

Though the 2019 season is still underway, LaMarre said the port has already completed the requirements to be on track to receive the award again next year.

A major component of the award was the port’s work with the Iver Bright, a ship that made its first Great Lakes voyage during the last season. The ship carried more than 4,000 tons of liquid asphalt for Suncor, a Canadian-based energy company.

The fact that the Iver Bright’s maiden seaway trip involved the Port of Monroe was highly impactful, LaMarre said, adding that the ship stayed on the Great Lakes during the winter months as it was an ice-class vessel. Its integration was a new development for the port, and the ship continues to work out of the Port of Monroe this season, according to LaMarre.

″(The ship) has essentially become one of our staple carriers,” LaMarre said.

The SLSDC’s also recognized the port’s use of its new state-funded dock. It was used for the handling of steel coils from Stelco, a steel company based in Ontario, Canada. The coils were for products in the automotive industry. The intermodal dock, a $3.6 million investment, saw its first ship, The Huron Spirit, in April 2018.

Although the coils didn’t factor into the port’s international tonnage, they were the first cargo handled at the dock, which will help with the port’s mission to grow its tonnage handling. It was a new cargo development, LaMarre said.

Tariffs on foreign steel caused that business to cease, LaMarre said, but the port is actively looking for ways to increase its opportunities in the steel market.

“The major benefit was not economics, but that we had the opportunity to prove ourselves with a new cargo that we handled very efficiently and safely,” LaMarre said. “Without the new dock, we wouldn’t have been able to handle that opportunity.”

 

Source: The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership

U.S. Wind Energy and Construction Supported by Great Lakes Seaway Shipping with Large Increases in Project Cargo During May

The St. Lawrence Seaway, North America’s binational marine highway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, reported overall gains in project cargo, agriculture and iron ore. These notable increases, specifically in project cargo, indicate that shippers view the Great Lakes Seaway system as way to ship to America’s heartland faster and more efficiently. Year-to-date (YTD) total cargo shipments for the period from the opening of the navigation season on March 22, 2019 through May 31, 2019 were 8.27 million metric tons (mt).

Top Performing Cargoes for May 2019 YTD:

Cargo Metric Tons Handled Growth YOY*
Grain 2,329,000 mt 3.6 percent*
Iron Ore 1,542,000 mt 8.1 percent*
Salt 621,000 mt 62.1 percent*
Liquid Chemicals 178,000 mt 9.9 percent*
Ores & Concentrates 70,000 mt 20.5 percent*

*Percentage indicates year-over-year (YOY) rounded to nearest tenth

 

Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation said, “Tonnage moving on the Seaway is running at about the same level as this time last year.  Shipments of project cargo are particularly noteworthy, and a number of U.S. Great Lakes ports are reporting an outlook for continued movement of these high value cargoes such as windmill components, cranes, and heavy machinery.”

The U.S. Great Lakes ports of Milwaukee, Monroe, Duluth-Superior, Indiana and Toledo showed strong activity congruent with overall Seaway growth, especially in project cargo — large, heavy, high value, or complex pieces of equipment, like windmills.

 

Great Lakes Seaway: Project Cargo Hub

BigLift Happy River delivering a load of wind energy cargo to the Duluth Cargo Connect facilities in May 2019

Anchored by domestic trade, the Port of Duluth-Superior operates as a global gateway for bulk cargo entering the system. “After a slow start in March due to ice, the pace picked up considerably in April and May. Overall tonnage for the Port of Duluth-Superior increased 9 percent over April 2018,” said Jayson Hron, Duluth Seaway Port Authority’s Director of Communications and Marketing.

 “We also welcomed the first of numerous wind energy cargo shipments scheduled to arrive throughout the summer,” said Hron. The Port of Duluth-Superior is expecting at least 15 shipments to their Duluth Cargo Connect facilities in 2019. So far, they’ve welcomed two, both carrying towers, with a third, carrying blades, scheduled to arrive soon.

Iron ore, petroleum products and dry bulk led the way for an 8 percent tonnage increase compared to May 2018 for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “So far this year, we’ve had more “salties” calling on Toledo than any year since 2006,” said Joseph Cappel, VP of Business Development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. A combination of grain, salt, pig iron and other bulk products along with project cargo for the Cleveland Cliffs HBI Facility already have accounted for 14 ocean vessel calls in Toledo this year.

Port Milwaukee has seen a 220% increase in project cargo. “Port Milwaukee has maintained its momentum through the early part of the international shipping season on the Great Lakes,” Municipal Port Director Adam Schlicht said. “Overall tonnage via the Port’s commercial tenants is up 10% compared to this time last year. Total cargo via Milwaukee Harbor remains sturdy, averaging a 2% increase in overall economic activity when compared to May 2018.”

Port Milwaukee’s ship-to-rail supply chain initiatives have already taken almost 500 trucks off of Wisconsin’s roads in 2018 and its leadership is optimistic about tonnage for the rest of the navigation season. Inbound steel, cement, and salt traffic will most likely lead the way.

 

Salt Shipments on the Great Lakes Seaway

M/V PAUL R. TREGURTHA, M/V GAGLIARDA and the Barge DELAWARE and Tug CALUSA COAST unloading at Port of Monroe’s docks. Photo Credit: Paul C. LaMarre III

“The Port of Monroe has had a strong start to the 2019 shipping season,” says Paul LaMarre, Port Director at Port of Monroe. Port of Monroe continues to move interlake cargoes such as coal, limestone, synthetic gypsum, bottom ash and others at a consistent pace. “We were also pleased to welcome our first international vessel of the season in late May, the newly acquired M/V GAGLIARDA.”

For the first time in the Port of Monroe’s history, three vessels unloaded at the same time on three separate docks. The “Queen of the Lakes”, the M/V PAUL R. TREGURTHA, unloaded at DTE’s Monroe Powerplant, the M/V GAGLIARDA unloaded Egyptian salt at the Port’s Riverfront Dock, and the Barge DELAWARE and Tug CALUSA COAST unloaded liquid asphalt at the Port’s Turning Basin Dock.

Ports of Indiana report an overall YTD 7.2 percent increase, noting one significant project cargo shipment — rubber-tire gantry cranes bound for a CSX container yard in Illinois.

Ports of Indiana continue to support economic growth in Indiana and throughout the Great Lakes region with an excellent start. We continue to grow, as has been seen the past four years, with increases in salt, export grain shipments, limestone and coal,” said Vanta E. Coda II, Chief Executive Officer for Ports of Indiana.

 

 

HC MELINA unloading at Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor

 

Source: The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership

LaMarre Named to Federal Maritime Panel

 

Port of Monroe Director Paul C. LaMarre III has been appointed to the Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee.

 

The two-year appointment was made by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao last month.

The panel provides advice and recommendations to the secretary of transportation on matters relating to the U. S. maritime transportation and its integration into other aspects of the country’s transportation system.

It’s composed of up to 30 leaders from commercial transportation firms, port and water stakeholders, labor, and federal, state and local public entities.

LaMarre, who has been port director since July, 2012, was supported in the appointment by U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, and U. S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.

“Given Paul’s extensive work experience and military background, he is extremely well qualified and understands the complex issues surrounding maritime transportation,” said Walberg.

“The Great Lakes maritime industry is an important driver of good-paying jobs and economic growth, and I look forward to continuing to work with Paul to advocate for our state and region,” he said.

Peters, too, praised LaMarre.

“From his service as a U.S. Navy pilot to his superb management of the Port of Monroe, Paul LaMarre is a distinguished representative of Michigan’s rich maritime heritage,” said Peters.

″(He will be) a key voice on the federal level for the Great Lakes’ ports and waterways,” he said.

LaMarre called the appointment “a humbling honor.”

He praised both lawmakers’ support of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system shipping and its maritime industry

He called their work “priceless to us.”

LaMarre called the Great Lakes sustainability “industrially and environmentally at the foundation of the Port of Monroe’s continued growth and resilience.”

 

SOURCE: The Monroe News

Peters Applauds Appointment of Monroe Port Director to Key Federal Maritime Transportation Committee

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today applauded the Department of Transportation’s decision to appoint Director of the Port of Monroe Paul LaMarre to the U.S. Marine and Transportation System National Advisory Committee (MTSNAC) for a term of two years. Last year, Peters supported LaMarre’s application, writing a letter to the Department of Transportation.

“From his service as a U.S. Navy pilot to his superb management of the Port of Monroe, Paul LaMarre is a distinguished representative of Michigan’s rich maritime heritage,” said Senator Peters. “I was proud to support his application, and I believe that he will not only be a tremendous asset to the Marine and Transportation System National Advisory Committee, but also a key voice on the federal level for the Great Lakes’ ports and waterways.”

“Receiving Senator Peters’ nomination to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee (MTSNAC) and subsequent appointment by Secretary Elaine L. Chao is truly a humbling honor,” said LaMarre. “Senator Peters’ unrelenting support of the Great Lakes maritime industry is indisputable and his support for the opportunity to advocate for the broader interests of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system as a whole is priceless. The Senator’s ongoing efforts to ensure the Great Lakes are sustainable both industrially and environmentally are at the foundation of the Port of Monroe’s continued growth and resilience.”

MTSNAC was commissioned by the Department of Transportation to identify issues and develop solutions to various impediments to effective management of short sea transportation. The Committee works directly with the Secretary of Transportation on various issues relating to maritime transportation, and to ensure that our waterways are seamless integrated within the nation’s larger transportation system.

 

Source: The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership