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

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

Port of Monroe

Shipping Milestone: Cargo Diversity Up Across Docks

The Port of Monroe is celebrating another milestone year.

This time it comes in the form of cargo diversity.

“The port is as vibrant as it ever has been despite rapid changes in cargo transportation,” port Director Paul C. LaMarre III said. “Cargo diversity across our docks is up.”

Despite some challenges early in 2018, the port continues to thrive. This shipping season saw the opening of the riverfront intermodal dock. The dock, a $3.6 million investment, saw its first ship in April. The Huron Spirit brought a load of steel coils for the automotive industry.

“We had an agreement to handle loads of steel coils, but only got that one shipment because of the steel tariffs,” LaMarre explained. “Effectively that business evaporated overnight.”

But LaMarre did not get discouraged.

“We are a nimble organization,” he said. “We adapt to change.”

LaMarre forged a deal with the Great Lakes Towing Co. and Great Lakes Shipyard to establish towing and shipyard services at the port.

As part of the partnership, Great Lakes Towing relocated the tug Wisconsin to the port to help with ship assistance. The tug is the oldest commercially operating tug boat in the world. It was built in 1897 in Buffalo, N.Y., by the Union Dry Dock Co.

International shipping returned to the port after a nearly two-year battle. International cargo was not able to call upon the port based on issues not related to the port.

Earlier this year, the U.S. government intervened and reopened international shipping to the Port of Monroe and the Port of Toledo.

During the 2014 shipping season, the port set tonnage records and nearly set another one the following season. LaMarre said this year the tonnage figures will be down, but the port’s diversification of cargo is up.

“ We continue to move a wide variety of cargo through the port,” he said. “ We are moving more gypsum on the dock and by rail.”

The port also is handling all the bottom ash from DTE Energy’s Monroe Power Plant, along with components for wind towers and natural gas pipeline sections.

LaMarre said this year the port’s season will continue through the winter due to a new development related to liquid asphalt.

The M/V Iver Bright, owned by Varoon, a company in the Netherlands, began calling on the port recently. The Iver Bright is an asphalt tanker that recently made its first voyage from Montreal to Monroe.

“The single voyage qualified the port for its fourth Seaway Pacesetter Award in six years,” LaMarre said.

The vessel is unique, La-Marre said, because it was built in 2012 and is an ice class vessel, meaning it can operate year-long.

“It will likely call upon the port all year, primarily between Sarnia, Ontario and Monroe,”

“When you couple our cargo activity with our industry leadership, it is evident that the port … continues to be seen as one of the most impactful ports on the Great Lakes,” LaMarre said. “It can also call upon Detroit and Toledo.”

The director anticipates this new aspect to the business will drive up the port’s tonnage in the coming year.

“It’s a significant boost during what is typically the slowest time of the year for the port,” LaMarre said.

Though many said it is LaMarre’s leadership that has driven the growth and success of the port, he credits the port’s business partners and DRM. That success will continue into 2019, he said.

“ When you couple our cargo activity with our industry leadership, it is evident that the port, though not large in tonnage, continues to be seen as one of the most impactful ports on the Great Lakes.”

The port wants the community to be involved in its operations. It launched a new website, www. portofmonroe.com, and a Facebook page where it shares its activity.

 

SOURCE: Monroe Evening News