The Duluth Seaway Port Authority said that higher Great Lakes water levels continued strong coal shipments and a boom of wind turbine traffic all contributed to strong tonnage totals through July 2008, though Duluth Superior’s maritime commerce is lagging slightly behind 2007’s record setting pace,.
All cargo through July 2008 totaled 21 million short tonnes, 6.5% behind 2007, which is remarkable considering grain shipments were down 62% compared to this timeframe in 2007.
The Port of Thunder Bay has dropped from 896,064 tonnes in July 2007 to 786,977 tonnes in July 2008. However, the port of Thunder Bay in conjunction with CN, provide a new highly competitive routing option for oil sands project cargo. CN rail has undertaken a major initiative to open up the Thunder Bay rail route to the ever increasing flow of project cargos destined to western Canada, specifically Ft McMurray in the upcoming years.
Above average spring rainfall in all of the Great Lakes basins raised lake levels well above their levels of a year ago. Lake Superior is 16 inches above last year's level, and forecasted to rise an additional inch over the next 30 days, enough to allow vessels to depart Duluth Superior with as much as 14 additional inches of draft compared to the end of 2007’s shipping season.
Each inch of draft means about 270 tonnes of cargo for the largest domestic Lakers and about 100 tonnes for typical Seaway vessels. The remaining Great Lakes range from 6 to 13 inches above their levels of a year ago, and despite some seasonal declines forecasted for Lakes Erie, Michigan Huron and Ontario, all with the exception of Erie are expected to remain above 2007 water levels over the next few months.
Historically the port’s No 2 cargo, coal shipments eclipsed iron ore during the early months of the 2008 shipping season and continue as the port’s maritime commerce leader to date. The clean burning, low sulfur coal shipped via the port's Midwest Energy Resources Company terminal reached 9.9 million tonnes through July 2008. Total iron ore shipments through July 2008 of 8.9 million tonnes were running 12.4% behind 2007 tonnage totals to date. Iron ore shipments are expected to increase in the second half of the shipping season.
Vessel arrivals through July 2008 totaled 531, a slight decrease of 17 ships from 2007 that included 366 US flagged, 139 Canadian flagged and 26 overseas vessels visiting the port of Duluth Superior.
Port of Thunder Bay July cargo statistics
|Type||Monthly 2008||Monthly 2007||Change|
Shipments in tonnes
Cumulative shipment till July 2008
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Shipments in tonnes